A dog which didn’t bark enabled fictional detective Sherlock Holmes to crack one of his most famous cases, and now another dog which has never really barked – because it too is fictitious – is about to help transform Selkirk’s riverside.
The dog that helped Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective solve the disappearance of a racehorse Blaze was featured in the 1892 short story The Adventure of Silver Blaze.
The animal inspiring an artwork about to grace one of the banks of the Ettrick Water, the cartoon Border collie Black Bob, is of more recent vintage, though, having featured in the Dandy comic from 1944 until 1982 and again in 2013.
It is one of two successful proposals for the Selkirk flood protection scheme community art initiative to be announced by Scottish Borders Council following a competitive tender process. A third is yet to be confirmed.
The Spirit of Black Bob Trail, drawn up by the Black Bob Heritage Group for zone one, will be created along the Long Philip Burn corridor.
The other successful bid to be revealed is called Spinning Point, created by Bespoke Atelier, will be given a home at the Bannerfield Plaza.
The cartoon canine-inspired trail will consist of a large drystone stell and cairn at the Corby Linn Road end of the Long Philip Burn corridor and a series of sculptural objects along the footpath on the theme of shepherding but no actual statue of the dog itself.
The plan is for the stell to be used as an outdoor gathering and performance space.
The community art project’s review panel were impressed by the trail because it recognises local farming heritage and acknowledgesSelkirk as the home of Black Bob, created by DC Thomson staff artist Jack Prout.
The review panel liked the plans to use stone from Philiphaugh Estate to construct the stell and also felt that over time, as the landscape matures, it would become part of the environment.
Spinning Point, a wooden sculpture to be constructed near the Bannerfield Arches, is said to be inspired by the skyline of Selkirk and also by models built during a workshop with children at a local after-school club.
The review panel described the submission as excellent and liked the proposal to use local timber, to be engraved with woven patterns to evoke memories of the textile industry once the backbone of Selkirk’s economy.
The contenders for the third project are A Selkirk Legacy by Svetlana Kondakova, the Standard Bearer by Beltane Studios and Weave by Jamieson and Gordon.
A spokesperson for the Black Bob Heritage Group said: “We are delighted that the Spirit of Black Bob Trail has been selected as the community arts project for the new Long Philip Burn corridor and are very much looking forward to seeing it take shape over the next few months.”
A spokesperson for Bespoke Atelier added: “We are delighted to have been selected and are looking forward to start working with Real Wood Studios, based at Monteviot Nurseries near Ancrum, to create the piece.
“We are excited to give to Selkirk a piece of artwork which celebrates the town’s textile heritage, while creating a public space which will help local communities gather.”
Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar, also the council’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, said: “The community arts project is looking to soften and enhance the flood defence infrastructure, help the scheme to blend in with the local natural and built environment and to provide a link to the town’s history, heritage and environment.
“We believe the two projects chosen so far will achieve these aims, and we congratulate the successful proposals.
“We wanted to make sure the riverside project at zone three also met these objectives, which is why we have asked for more details to be provided before a final decision was made.
“We anticipate this decision will be made towards the end of June.”
The £31.4m Selkirk flood protection scheme was officially opened in February.