Wicker Beltie is a belter of a showpiece for the showcase

A one-tonne wicker Beltie bull, hand sculpted in Auchencairn, is a centrepiece of this week’s Royal Highland Showcase.

The wicker bull towers over Trevor Leat and Cathy Agnew
The wicker bull towers over Trevor Leat and Cathy Agnew

The bull was made by willow artist and sculptor Trevor Leat, whose figures are familiar from Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, the Wickerman music festivals and a variety of National Trust for Scotland properties.

Trevor said: “This was a wonderful project to take part in.

“What I wanted to capture was the character of these truly iconic cattle – the strength, muscle, power and energy of the bull – but also something of the spirit of the Galloway hills where they are bred and which are their homes.”

The Royal Highland Showcase, is being streamed live online until Sunday, replacing the annual Royal Highland Show which cannot take place due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Each year the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) invites a different region to act as “host”, allowing it to highlight the best of its rural economy.

This year it’s the turn of Dumfries and Galloway which prides itself on its thriving creative community.

The artworks project has been led by Cathy Agnew on behalf of RHASS honorary president Fiona Armstrong, and her President’s Initiative which seeks to showcase Dumfries and Galloway’s farming, culture and heritage.

Cathy said: “It was fortuitous timing to be able to commission Trevor to construct this fantastic creature for the Royal Highland Showcase.

"I’ve known Trevor’s work for a number of years and for me he epitomises the very best of craftsmanship and creativity that we have in Dumfries and Galloway. His works have attracted both national and international acclaim.”

As well as the bull, the underpass where livestock are led in and out of the Ingliston showground, has been painted with a mural depicting farm animals, horses, wildlife and scenes from south-west Scotland, a collaboration between OutPost Arts, of Langholm, and Edinburgh artists Ross Blair and Brian McFeely.

Lucy MacLeod, creative director of Outpost Arts, added: “It’s such a brilliant site for a piece of work like this in a truly iconic location where it will be seen by hundreds of thousands of people for years to come.”