Category Archives: News


Ronald Rae visits his Fallen Christ Sculpture on Iona

Not everyone manages to go to Iona because of the long journeys involved – from the mainland of Scotland it requires two ferry journeys and 40 miles on a one track road through Mull. It is said of Iona that it is a hard place to get to and an equally hard place to leave. After seeing this video I think you will understand why.

Ronald Rae’s Fallen Christ has now been on Iona for two years. A sign directs visitors to find the sculpture past the Abbey on the hill next to the George MacLeod Centre, home of The Iona Community. The sculpture is in memory of Jim Hughes, an Iona Community member – it was Jim who decided to have the sculpture there.

Ronald Rae opens Creetown School project

On Tuesday 29th June 2010 Ronald Rae opened Creetown Primary School project – Time in our Environment. This was a great honour for him as it was in Creetown’s famous quarry, when he was 18 years of age, that he found his first monumental granite stone that became the Deposition of Christ, now sited at Rozelle Park Ayr.

The project was an installation in the playground of a sundial surrounded by a granite stone circle. Each stone records how Creetown granite has been used and where it is situated now, including two of Ronald Rae’s granite sculptures, O wert thou in the Cauld Blast (Robert Burns) now sited in Milton Keynes and John the Baptist in Oxon, both carved in Creetown granite. Using the children’s drawings of the sculptures the Galloway Granite Company etched the images on to the upright stones.

To read more about this fascinating project see feature on our News page, Art in the Community-Creetown School Project.”

We are happy to share with you this short video of the Opening.

Ronald Rae Finds A New Stone

Ronald Rae has been back to Corrennie Quarry in search of a new stone. This short video taken in the quarry shows where his creativity begins. It is some time since he has carved and he wonders if his body will withstand the punishment of another stone. However his obsession to carve granite has always overcome this. The heat of the summer is not the time to start, however when the time is right the progress of the sculpture will be recorded on the website. Keep in touch with Ronald Rae’s activities by clicking on News at the top of our Home page.

Baby Boar returns to Aberdeen

Ronald Rae’s Baby Boar sculpture returned to Aberdeen on 14th June 2010. It has been bought by JD Wetherspoon for their new restaurant and beer garden at Aberdeen Airport. The sculpture is sited in the beer garden and quickly become a talking point for visitors while they enjoy a snack and await their flights.

It is appropriate to have this sculpture at Wetherspoon’s Granite City restaurant as wild boar often featured on Pictish and Celtic stones being a symbol of hospitality and feasting. Also the one tonne granite boulder for the Baby Boar was sourced from Kemnay Quarry only a few miles from Aberdeen Airport.

The granite has been isotopically dated at 470 million years old. Kemnay granite is famous not just in Aberdeen for buildings such as the magnificent Marischal College but for major building projects much further afield eg. the Forth Railway Bridge, several of London’s bridges, the Thames Embankment, The Tower and more recently for the cladding of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. Sadly Kemnay Quarry is now closed.

Ronald Rae has used Kemnay granite for many of his sculptures, most of which have been sold and moved south of the Border. One called St Kilda Wake is privately owned in Aberdeenshire but the Baby Boar is the first sculpture to have a public site in Aberdeenshire returning very near to its birthplace, so it should feel immediately at home there.

The Baby Boar is well travelled being part of the Ronald Rae Sculpture Exhibition in Regent’s Park, London, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Holyrood Park Edinburgh and at The Falkirk Wheel. Coming back to Aberdeen has completed the circle.

Arriving in St Andrew Square

Granite 8x17x6ft 20.00 tonnes. For sale. Location: St Andrew Square, Edinburgh.

Scroll down for short video of the move.

On Sunday 25th April 2010 the Lion of Scotland sculpture left Holyrood Park after four years and made the mile long journey to its new city centre venue at St Andrew Square Garden where it will be exhibited for the next two years.

Despite the pouring rain a crowd cheered as the sculpture was lifted by a huge crane over the canopy of the trees into the Garden. It was not long till the sun came out and the public flocked to engage with it. Already the Lion seems to be at home!

The sculptor wishes to thank Essential Edinburgh for hosting this exhibition, also First State Investments and private sponsors who have helped to finance the move, including support from Harvey Nichols and the City of Edinburgh Council SFC Neighbourhood Roads Team and an excellent job done by Ainscough Cranehire Ltd.

Lion Being Washed

Granite 8x17x6ft 20.00 tons. Location: Now in St Andrew Square Garden.

The controversial 20 tonne Lion of Scotland granite sculpture that has been a landmark in Holyrood Park for the past four years moved on Sunday 25th April to St Andrew Square Garden in the city centre. In response to thousands of Lion supporters, Ronald Rae is delighted to tell them that the sculpture is staying in Edinburgh in the public arena only one mile from Holyrood! The Lion will be on exhibition in the Square initially for one year.

The above photo shows the Lion during its last few days at Holyrood Park being power-washed, courtesy of the City of Edinburgh Council SFC, to be in pristine condition for its new venue at St Andrew Square.

Art In The Community – Creetown School Project

Creetown School

In March 2010 I had an interesting phone call from the head teacher of Creetown School in south west Scotland. The pupils were working on a major project called Time in our Environment. Part of the project was to erect a granite “Stonehenge” in the playground, each upright representing how Creetown granite had been used and recording where it is situated now.

Ronald Rae

The head teacher wanted to include two of Ronald Rae’s granite sculptures in the project, O wert thou in the Cauld Blast (Robert Burns) now sited in Milton Keynes and John the Baptist in Oxon, both carved in Creetown granite. Using the children’s drawings of the sculptures the Galloway Granite Company etched the images on to the upright stones. Ronald was invited to open the exhibition in June.

Kirkmabreck Quarry

Ronald Rae was delighted to be part of this exciting project. Kirkmabreck, Creetown’s largest quarry was an Aladdin’s cave to him when he chose his very first monumental stone from there in 1964 which became the Deposition of Christ, now at Rozelle Park, Ayr. Rae returned to Creetown for many years in search of the silver grey granite that would be his inspiration, till the quarry closed in 1990. Boy with Calf currently on exhibition at The Falkirk Wheel is a fine example of the beauty of Creetown granite.

Kirkmabreck Quarry, Creetown, was in its heyday in the 1830s when 450 quarrymen brought down hundreds of tonnes of granite out of the hill without blasting! The stones were then shipped to Merseyside to become part of Liverpool Docks. It followed that Greenock, Leith, Birkenhead, Newport and Swansea docks were also built from Creetown granite.

Hew Lorimer

Other sculptors have been inspired by this hardest of stones. Hew Lorimer 1907-1993, son of the architect Sir Robert Lorimer, used blocks of Creetown granite to create his 27 ft high sculpture, Our Lady of the Isles sited on the hill at Rueval on South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, completed in 1958. This landmark sculpture of the Madonna and Child was funded by the local community.

Hideo Furuta

The Japanese sculptor Hideo Furuta, born in Hiroshima, whom I met at Edinburgh University in 1989 when he was artist in residence there, spent several years in Creetown initially living and carving in the deserted Kirkmabreck Quarry in the 1990s. Hideo was well known in the village sharing his love of granite with the community. One of his major projects was to redesign Adamson Square in Creetown in 2005, which sadly became his memorial as Hideo died of cancer in 2007, aged only 57. He will never be forgotten in Creetown.

Granite quarries in Scotland

Nowadays the few granite quarries that are still operating in Scotland work on a smaller scale. Dalbeattie Quarry not far from Creetown rarely brings out large stones. Kemnay Quarry, which supplied some of the cladding for the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, and a source for Ronald Rae for several years, is now closed. Tillyfourie Quarry, the source of the pink Corrennie granite Rae used for his 20 tonne Lion of Scotland, no longer brings down monumental blocks only stones for crushing. Unfortunately granite from China, which is less expensive to manufacture, is now replacing Scottish granite for building projects.

One day all the granite quarries in Scotland will be silent, Nature will take over and the only sound to be heard will be the call of the peregrine falcon. Well done Creetown School for celebrating this noble and ancient stone, which according to isotopic dating is 391 million years old!

Rae In His Studio

Ronald Rae is not only a renowned granite sculptor, he is also a prolific and versatile graphic artist. His ability to draw was recognised whilst still at school when a series of his cartoon strips was published in the weekly newspaper, the Ayr Advertiser.

For the past fifty years Rae has developed his drawing skills to a high degree finding different ways of expressing himself with pen, crayon, ink, charcoal, paint and mixed media, always willing to experiment and never wanting to bore himself or his audience by sticking to one style. His drawings are in public and private collections throughout the world.

Rae’s subject matter varies from detailed miniature portraits to large expressive drawings of the human condition and the world of nature. These contrast with his abstract vibrant mixed media pieces, collage on wood, sun drawings on leaves and paintings on branches, to name but a few. He has also made a series of drawings – political cartoons on newspapers – responding to the issues of the day.

Ten years ago he started collecting Family Bibles and other large format books which has illustrated on every page often adding his own words to the text.

On a daily basis Rae also writes. His poems are full of metaphors and relate to his graphic work, addressing the same big issues of faith, the human condition, the environment and politics.

Rae at Cramond

Ronald Rae Fish Sculpture On Cramond Beach

In April 2009 Ronald Rae’s 8 tonne fish was sited on the waterfront at Cramond, the result of a successful fund raising campaign by the local community entitled “Chip in for the Cramond Fish”.

The project was supported by the Cramond Community Council, the Cramond Association, the City of Edinburgh Council, Cramond Kirk, local businesses and, heart-warming for the sculptor, hundreds of donations from the local community.

The Cramond Fish carved in a pink Corrennie granite, is now a landmark on the beach. The varying tides and ever changing light on the sculpture add to its beauty with the backdrop of the Firth of Forth, Cramond Island and the hills of Fife on the horizon.

Ronald Rae has another smaller Fish sculpture carved in silver grey Kemnay granite sited in the meeting place of Cramond Kirk Halls. He donated this work to Cramond Kirk when they built their new Kirk Halls for the Millennium.

At present Ronald Rae is back in his yard behind Cramond Kirk where the local community can follow the birth of yet another sculpture – this time a Baby Elephant.

Visitors to this website can also follow its development. See videos on our Home page.

Rae’s Lion of Scotland at Holyrood

The Lion of Scotland was on display at Holyrood Park as part of the Ronald Rae Exhibition from 2006 -2008 then for a further two years till April 2010 on loan to The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body. This was due to overwhelming public support and petitions organised by The Scottish Tourist Blue Badge Guides, Bob Watt (sadly deceased) and Margaret Smith MSP (online petition) with further support from many Cross Party MSPs in particular Christine Grahame.

Rosalind Newlands, President of the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA), on behalf of STGA presented a Petition to the Scottish Parliament to request that the Lion of Scotland by Ronald Rae be allowed to remain close to the Parliament. Ronald Rae had offered to lend the sculpture to the Parliament without limit of time. It has now been agreed that the Lion can remain in Holyrood Park for 2 years.

Ronald Rae said “the support of the Scottish Tourist Guides has been monumental in affecting this decision. They did it for the people of Scotland and we are very grateful.”
April 2008

Margaret Smith MSP welcomed the decision to keep Ronald Rae’s “Lion of Scotland” sculpture at Holyrood for the next two years. Margaret said, “I am delighted … It is a fantastic sculpture by a local … artist and the national symbol of Scotland, so this is the perfect place for it. March 2008

“A number of people contacted me during my campaign to let me know of their support for keeping the sculpture in this location and I know that many more will be delighted that it is staying. I’m glad that the Scottish Parliament’s Art Advisory Group and Corporate Body have listened to the people of Scotland as well as the many visitors to Edinburgh who were calling for the Lion to remain at its current site.” March 2008

Latest news – the Lion moved from Holyrood Park on 25th April 2010 however it has not left Edinburgh. The new city centre site for the sculpture is St Andrew Square Garden only one mile from Holyrood where it will be on exhibition for the next year.

Ronald Rae thanks all those who have supported the Lion of Scotland sculpture. He has been overwhelmed by the number of letters and emails he has received over the past four years. April 2010.