As I mentioned in my last post, “The William Wallace Visitor Centre“, I’m hoping to transform the courtyard area between Barony St. John church and hall into a glass entrance area which will house a cafe and a visitor centre highlighting William Wallace and his connection with Ardrossan.
Down through the ages, Wallace has had many faces (obviously there were no cameras in the 13th Century and only the very wealthy had their portrait painted so depictions of Wallace have varied greatly) as can be seen above.
I had been explaining the Wallace connection to my two young children and, after watching the film, promised to take them to The Wallace Monument to see his sword (which is on display there) and the statue of him at the base of the Monument.
Imagine their disappointment (and mine) when we discovered that the statue was no longer there.
A quick chat with the staff at the Monument and we discovered that the ‘Freedom’ statue had been taken away by it’s sculptor Tom Church in 2008.
Not one to keep my kids disappointed, I found Tom’s number and gave him a call. He informed me that the statue was in his work yard in Brechin and agreed for us to visit.
Apparently, the statue had spent the first 3 years of its life at Brechin Castle before being placed at the foot of The Wallace Monument in Stirling from 1997 until 2008. During this time there were up to 10 coaches per day arriving with tourists eager to photograph the statue (this excludes those coaches arriving to allow passengers access to the Monument).
Now, it has to be said, some people felt inspired as the statue encompassed the true spirit of Wallace as seen in the movie ‘Braveheart’, others felt it was too much of a Mel Gibson lookalike statue and only worthy of ridicule, and others felt it was simply a reflection of the many faces given to Wallace down through the ages.
Whatever the reason for wanting your photo taken with the statue, it is world renowned and attracted tourists by their droves – in fact, it still draws in coaches of Japanese tourists to the sculptor’s workshop where it currently resides.
Tom asked about my project and then made me a wonderful offer – he would give me the statue to put on display in our Visitor Centre. 🙂
Although the press nicknamed the sculpture the ‘Freedom’ statue, it was actually named “Spirit of Wallace” by the sculptor because it was meant to represent the ghost of William Wallace coming out of Scotland through the iconic film “Braveheart”. The back of the sculpture (seldom seen by tourists) has a map of Scotland engraved into it and this whole artwork seems a very fitting addition to our William Wallace Visitor Centre particularly when you connect the “Spirit of Wallace” statue with the ghost of Wallace which is said to roam the nearby castle.
We propose to encase the statue in glass near the front of the extended glass entrance so it can be seen from the main road. This will also help highlight the as yet unseen rear of the statue and the map of Scotland which will be painted in gold.
Now if this doesn’t add yet another “Wow” factor to the whole project, nothing will.