Soutar Sculpture

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William Soutar

A K Bell Library,
York Place,
Perth PH2 8EP
t: +44 (0)1738 477062
e:Local Studies

The Soutar House,
27 Wilson Street,
Perth PH2 0EX
t: +44 (0)1738 643687

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Sponsored Trophies

William Soutar Bairnrhymes Trophy

bairnrhymes trophy

This trophy is awarded annually for the best recital of a Soutar Bairnrhyme at the Bairnrhymes Competition for primary schools in Perth.

The oak base is by Angus Ross of Aberfeldy, and the laser etching by David Young of Perth.

The joint inaugural winners in 2013 were Skye Cameron and Bethia Davidson of Moncreiffe Primary School.

William Soutar Unicorn Trophy

unicorn trophy

This unicorn statue is awarded annually for the best recital of a Soutar poem at the Schools' Festival organised by Perth Burns Club.

The sculpture is by Heather Cumming of Keltneyburn Smithy and the oak base by Angus Ross of Aberfeldy.

The inaugural winner in 2011 was Isobel Spence of Strathallan School.

Public Art

Bronze Bust

soutar bust

This bronze bust was sculpted by Benno Schotz, RSA, and is on view in the Museum and Art Gallery, George Street, Perth.

It was commissioned by the William Soutar Commemoration Committee with funds raised by public subscription, and was presented to Perth Art Gallery on 25 April 1959.

The inscription reads: "His poems grew in quiet"

Nae Day Sae Dark

nae day sae dark

This grew in the making. It was one of the first pieces of sculpture I made in the public domain and has been one of my most popular pieces, perhaps because it has both simplicity of composition and drama. Researching the sculpture introduced me to the work of William Soutar and made me think about working with living poets. Poetry adds a fourth dimension to sculpture and makes people linger longer with the work and get more from it. The figure wearing a blindfold could be a metaphor for darkness as mentioned in the poem. The other figure has that 'glint' of happier times but, as with most art, some mystery should remain.

This sculptural composition answers the demanding criteria of public art, combining heavy engineering, street furniture, local history, poetry, even irony and despair. As a composition it is as tight as the poem itself and equally accessible, important factors in both poem's and sculpture's philosophies.

David Annand

Golden Eye

golden eye

The actual title of this piece of sculpture was The Dark and Singing Tide which is taken from another of William Soutar's poems, The River. I have tried to 'extract' a cubic metre of water from the River Tay and in it a swimming Goldeneye searching for molluscs. This sculpture tries to create an underwater scene that emphasises three-dimensionality.

The Tay is the most powerful river in Britain with more water flowing through Perth than the Thames and Severn combined. Sometimes it is as shallow as the sculpture. At high tide, in spate, it can rise to flood the streets - and would do, were it not for the defence systems installed to protect the town.

David Annand

Soutar's Menagerie


Sculptress Rhonda Bayley produced this piece in 2004. It sits on the Tay Street flood wall, constructed in 2001 as part of the flood defences erected after the major water damage sustained in 1990 and 1993.

The sculpture commemorates a series of children's poems in Scots known as the The Bairnrhymes, in which Soutar uses birds and animals to help tell the stories (much as Aesop did centuries before).

Aince Upon a Day is one such poem, and its words are carved into the pillars of the Tay flood wall which supports the sculpture. A craw (crow), daw (jackdaw) and a snail feature in this tale of a wee boy who didn't quite manage to follow his mother's teachings.

Soutar's Plaque


This metal plaque was installed on 13th January 2020, and sits beside Soutar's Menagerie on the Tay Street flood wall.

The plaque is a replica of the flagstone installed in Makars' Court in Edinburgh in 2017.

The lines are taken from the poem Ballad, and also feature in the musical production In a Sma Room which toured East Scotland in 2014.

Public Memorials

Perthshire International Brigade

perthshire international brigade

The memorial plaque is carved from Forest of Dean sandstone by local sculptor and stone-carver Gillian Forbes. It commemorates the volunteers from Perthshire who served in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-9. The plaque was unveiled by Provost John Hulbert in June 2010 and is located on the North Inch by the old Perth Bridge and Charlotte Street. Further information can be obtained from the Perthshire International Brigade web page. The inscription contains Soutar's lines:

Even as blossoms fall
Circling about a tree
Our deeds within a world
Define our world

Membership of FoWSS is free, and you have the opportunity to organise or participate in projects designed to promote Soutar and his works. In addition, members receive an annual newsletter, notification of all FoWSS events and publications, and are invited to an annual Soutar Tea held at the Soutar House. Please use the Contact page if you would like to find out more about FoWSS.