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Donald Dewar opens Ben Lomond National Memorial Park

11/11/1997

The Secretary of State for Scotland, the Rt Hon Donald Dewar MP today officially opened the Ben Lomond National Memorial Park and unveiled a sculpture by Scottish artist, Doug Cocker, winner of the competition to design a permanent monument for the Park. Management of the Park is provided by the Forestry Commission and the National Trust for Scotland along with the Scottish Office.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Dewar said:

"Mr Cocker had a difficult task. He was invited, not to create a war memorial - the Park itself is the memorial - but to reflect the reasons for the creation of the Park. A sculpture which would on the one hand celebrate this wonderful landscape and our freedom to enjoy it, whilst also providing a focus for our thoughts of those who fought and died to maintain that freedom. The Park provides the opportunity for individual reflection and remembrance, but on this day in particular, we remember collectively all those who laid down their lives in the service of their country.

"The final work provides a fitting and impressive statement of the purpose of the Memorial Park.

"A few weeks ago I announced the Government's support for the creation of Scotland's first National Park here in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. The Memorial Park will form part of the National Park. This will allow the whole of the area to be managed in an integrated way with the emphasis on sustainable development.

"Clearly the Memorial Park management committee will wish to work closely with the National Park management in many areas, but realisation of the vision for the Memorial Park will remain with the Management Committee. It will be their responsibility to ensure that visitors to the Park have the opportunity not only to enjoy the natural heritage and the recreation opportunities, but also the opportunity to remember those to whom the Park is dedicated."

Describing his winning sculpture which is made of Karin grey granite, Mr Cocker said:

"The work comprises of a ring, three metres high, with a centred pyramid on its lower section. The pyramid's apex is just below human eye level. The work is a balance of space and solid, acting as a foil for the receding waters of the loch.

"Its pyramid echoes the distant Ben Vorlich and the nearby Loch Lomond. The configuration of slabs confirm a sense of perspective, implying a vanishing point at and beyond the pyramid's apex.

"The sculpture was designed to be sited on the small finger of land looking northward over the loch. Its configuration, context and backdrop very evidently invite looking through. It functions as a punctuation for the landscape in which it stands.

"The forms of the sculpture have no intended symbolism. It is a formalist object, seeking to explore and exploit material, proportion, space, light and vision."

BACKGROUND

1. The Forestry Commission, and the National Trust for Scotland are the principal partners along with The Scottish Office in the management of the Memorial Park.

2. The Ben Lomond National Memorial Park was created out of the former Rowardennan Estate on the east bank of Loch Lomond with the support of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Most of the land is owned by Forest Enterprise and the National Trust for Scotland. At the request of the former Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Forsyth, a concordat was signed agreeing the area will be permanently protected as a memorial to those Scots who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Second World War.

3. A competition to select an artist to create a memorial feature for the Park was organised by the Scottish Sculpture Trust on behalf of the Scottish Office, the National Trust for Scotland and the Forestry Commission. Sixty-eight artists expressed an interest and, from these, a short-list of five were invited to submit details of their proposed artwork. Doug Cocker was awarded the commission.

News Release - 1702/97 Date November 11, 1997