Large-Scale: Giant Stockingfield Bridge ‘Beithir’ Sculpture Unveiled in Glasgow

Close-up of the extraordinary Biethir sculpture, 1st march 2024. Image Gordon Reid
Close-up of the extraordinary Beithir sculpture, 1st March 2024. Image Gordon Reid

Title:
Bella the Beithir - 'Bella and the seven winds'

From: 1 Mar 2024

Venue:
Stockingfield Bridge Art Park
Glasgow
Glasgow & the Clyde Valley
G20 9HJ 

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Artmag was delighted to be present on 1st March 2024 at the unveiling of the completed head of the mythical serpent ‘Bella’ the Beithir at Stockingfield Bridge Art Park in Glasgow.  

Stockingfield Bridge Art Park is adjacent to the Forth and Clyde Canal, where the communities of Maryhill, Ruchill and Gilshochill meet and are now connected by a spectacular new foot and cycle bridge. The sculpture was commissioned by Scottish Canals.

Unveiling Bella the Biethir sculpture, 1st march 2024. Image Gordon Reid
Artist Nichol Wheatley unveils the head section of Bella the Beithir, 1st March 2024. Image Gordon Reid

Bella was unveiled by her designer and the lead artist of the project, Nichol Wheatley, along with Glasgow’s Lord Provost, Jacqueline McLaren and John Paterson, the Chief Executive of Scottish Canals.

Over the winter months since October 2023, Nichol Wheatley – whose work has appeared in artmag.co.uk – and artists from Make It Glasgow Ruth Impey and Louise Nolan worked on the mosaic tiling of the serpent’s head under a weather-proof enclosure. The steel ‘wireframe’ substructure was manufactured by Scott Associates Sculptures and Design in Maryhill. 

The mosaic work of the head comprises both special hand-made tiles and plain ‘seconds’ from a manufacturer. The hand-made tiles were made by individuals and groups from local communities, enabled by Make It Glasgow. 

Seven winds are depicted along the length of Bella’s body, picked out in different colours. Behind her sharp teeth and visible within her mouth, she carries a world egg as a symbol of hope. 

The Gaelic word Beithir comes from Scottish folklore, denoting a large snake-like creature or dragon. Image Gordon Reid.

Bella is 121 metres long and work will continue over the next 5 years to complete the mosaicking of the ‘scales’ on her body. The collaborative scale-making will be led by Louise Nolan, Ruth Impey and Nichol Wheatley. The whole body of the Beithir will be mosaicked with ‘scales’ made by the three local communities, and this is also open to all who would like to participate in creating tiles. It is envisaged the project could involve up to 30,000 people. 

Make It Glasgow aims to build community around Scotland’s industrial pottery heritage and the various art works across Stockingfield Park make up Scotland’s largest community mosaic art project. 

Stockingfield Park is accessible year-round for all to see the progress of the Beithir and Make It Glasgow are present on site at the Art Bothy. More information is available at Make It Glasgow’s website.

With thanks to Gordon Reid for this feature.

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