Selkirk is about to look £100k brighter

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The people of Selkirk are to have their say in the selection of the three art installations which will provide the finishing touches to the town’s £31.4m flood protection scheme.

Scottish Borders Council has this week taken to the Public Contracts Scotland website to invite bids from artists across the UK wishing to be considered for the three commissions, worth in excess of £100,000, which project bosses hope will become permanent visitor attractions in the town.

“These pieces of public art will be the icing on the cake of this major piece of engineering work, which is due to be completed at the end of this year, and be officially opened in February,” said Andrew Dinnett, the scheme’s design liaison engineer.

“We want the arts project to help create a sense of community ownership over the flood defence infrastructure and the public spaces created or regenerated by the scheme over the past two years.

“We hope the installations will help soften and enhance the new infrastructure, provide a link with the town’s heritage and environment and enhance footfall and visitor engagement with the scheme.”

The installations will be sited in three urban zones – the new Long Philip Burn park west of the Bannerfield estate; the plaza area north of the new Bridge Street footbridge; and the riverside corridor between that footbridge and the Common Riding crossing point on the Ettrick Water.

Before the closing date of November 11 for bids to be considered, potential artists will be offered a site tour.

From the tenders received, 12 artists will be selected (four for each zone) and each will be given £750 to further develop their proposals.

“Between November and January we will be organising a public exhibition in Selkirk of what is proposed by the dozen shortlisted artists,” revealed Mr Dinnett.

“That community feedback will be taken into account when the project board makes its final decision on the three winning entries. We expect the installations to be in place by September next year.”

The art project currently has an overall budget of £105,000 which includes a contribution from local businesses and organisations whose largesse will be recognised with “funder’s plaques” erected at or near the chosen artwork.

“Based on the current budget, it is anticipated around £30,000 will be allocated to each of the three zones, although an estimated cost greater or less than this amount will be considered,” explained Mr Dinnett.

“Artists must demonstrate an ability to secure additional funding from external sources if their artwork will cost more than £30,000.”