Artist plans forest football pitch

AN artist has returned to his family roots to create a football pitch in the middle of forest near Selkirk as part of next year’s London Olympics celebrations.

Work has begun on the site, in the middle of a commercial woodland near Midlem, to clear the way for the surface, which will host two football matches in July 2012.

Craig Coulthard chose the Borders as the home for his £500,000 commission – the only artwork in Scotland out of 12 being created across the UK as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad – after seeing the region from thousands of metres up in the air.

He told TheSouthern: “I was flying from Edinburgh to London and was looking down over the Borders.

“I could see all the dense forest and wondered if it would be possible to built a football pitch in the middle.”

Craig, 30, has family ties to Selkirk – his grandfather, Jim, will be celebrating 60 years since he was Shoemakers’ Standard Bearer in 2012 to coincide with the launch of Craig’s pitch.

The commission, which will include changing rooms made from the felled trees and in the design of Gala Fairydean’s stand, was ridiculed when announced in 2009. Scottish Borders councillor Graham Garvie described it as “plain bonkers”, while SBC’s senior sports officer, Dougie Anderson, said the money could have been used to built a 3G pitch which would last 10 years.

Craig said: “The issue with the money is understandable, especially with budgets being cut, but not really relevant as it was National Lottery funding which was set aside for this project.”