Peter Gaskell pays tribute in verse to the sculptures at Glenkiln
Naked with hand raised and beckoning,
Rodin’s John the Baptist strides forward
across the moorland,
his posture seeming
an urgent effort to communicate,
as if perhaps summoning the people of Albany,
for the advent of their redemption.
The earnest pose of Epstein’s Visitation
is an odd surprise
as we come across Mary,
the Redeemer’s mother among some trees
telling her cousin, the Baptist’s mother Elizabeth,
of her pregnancy.
It was my cousin Elizabeth,
herself fashioned by the Auchenbrack of Dumfries and Galloway,
who took us, my old father and I, to Glenkiln,
proud to show off the first sculptures by contemporary artists
placed anywhere in the landscape of Albion.
Now they are gone, and the moorland stands denuded
of features it took decades to settle and absorb.
Their owner removed the statues,
after the Standing Figure by Henry Moore
was plundered from its plinth.
A cultural desecration is the heritage
their thieves left behind.
It had been a bold move to situate them there.
In Wales, our Rodins and Epsteins are museumed,
safe from the clutch of cultural criminals who would rob us of our heritage.
The expansive moorland around Glenkiln lies shrunken back,
as if it has been raped and takes the blame
or feels the shame
of no being longer connected
to a broader cultural dimension.
Sadly, our Scottish cousins have paid dearly
for their generosity of spirit.
This time then, dear cousins, when it is the political landscape
that takes forward your purposeful stride
(whichever its direction – yea or nay)
take pride to express what is best in you, and heed
lest the asset-strippers that prowl your culture
disconnect you from the rest of us.