OBAN, STANDING STONES

Essentially what Carrick was creating in his highland memorials of Lochawe, Killin and Oban were 20th century standing stones.  Again the base of the Oban memorial is a pedestal built of local stone in the style of a highland cairn and an ancient boulder stands immediately beside like a petrified shadow of the memorial itself.  The stone, perhaps 4 metres high, is said to be a glacial erratic deposited there some 10,000 years ago by the retreating glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age.  It is also a cup-and-ring marked stone.  The meaning of these enigmatic symbols dating from the Bronze Age, which are to be found carved on stones throughout Scotland is unknown.  At Oban however the ancient stone not only underpins the concept of the modern memorial, forging a cultural link in time and place, it has also clearly inspired the sculpture itself.  Once again Carrick visited the town and as a result carved a group featuring two soldiers who carry a wounded comrade.  The silhouetted outline of the sculpture is identical to that of the top of the ancient stone.  Did Carrick see three soldiers emerging from the top of this stone during his visit?  Certainly he had a tremendous vision for shape and form; and this was always three dimensional. This argument seems to be supported by Carrick’s technique.  The group of soldiers are roughly carved, especially at the back, as though they are emerging out of the stone itself.  Carrick was actually criticised by the Scotsman newspaper critic for this after seeing the sketch model at the annual RSA exhibition as he thought the sculpture looked unfinished.  Like many artists however the critics remained glued to the cities and studios and were ignorant of how the concept behind the work was inextricably linked to its site, and the highland community to whom it belonged.

 

Oban

Unveiled

11/11/1923

 

Among Carrick's business papers in Edinburgh are many letters to members of the war memorial committee or architects arranging a visit of re-visit to their towns to discuss the memorial and its location.

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