Statue characters come to life in children’s novel

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Youngsters are giving new life to a set of statues by Victorian era Eaglesham sculptor William Gemmell.

The Eaglesham Primary P6 pupils are creating their own illustrated novel based on the characters from the village’s Gemmell Statue Collection.

Eaglesham Primary pupils Harvey Blair and Lucy Wilson, both ten, with the story and pictures they have created.  They are pictured with William Gemmells statue of a Glasgow worthy called Hawkie.

Eaglesham Primary pupils Harvey Blair and Lucy Wilson, both ten, with the story and pictures they have created. They are pictured with William Gemmells statue of a Glasgow worthy called Hawkie.

And last week they took part in a workshop organised by East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure’s Arts and Heritage team and led by writer and illustrator, John Fardell.

The pupils have written their own fictional stories based on William Gemmell’s statues in a comic book style and their novel will be professionally printed.

Gemmell created his amazingly lifelike and characterful statues in the mid-19th century.

The youngsters’ workshop, which also explored the history of the statue collection, is part of a wider project in conjunction with East Renfrewshire Council and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The statues have recently been restored and placed on display in Eaglesham’s Carswell Centre.

Gemmell spent the whole of his life in Eaglesham from when he was born in 1814 until he died in 1891.

A joiner to trade, he taught himself sculpting as a hobby and spent three years creating a group of life-size stone statues based on the characters from the Robert Burns’ poem, The Cottar’s Saturday night.

Another of Gemmell’s well-known statues is of Burns with Highland Mary by his side.

But although the sculptor’s talents were recognised locally his modesty prevented him from receiving wider national acclaim.

Anthony McReavy, ERCL chief executive said: “It’s important our young people learn about their heritage and this project is an engaging and innovative way of doing that.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the finished work of the pupils’ stories appearing in print.”