Faces of the Auld Wives' Lifts, new artwork by Katja Larsson for Torrance

01.08.19 / By Fiona Dean /
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Faces of the Auld Wives’ Lifts by artist Katja Larsson commissioned for Trails & Tales are cast and set into the ground of Caldwell Halls garden. Taking inspiration from a mysterious set of standing stones on Craigmaddie Muir known as the Auld Wives’ Lifts, the stones are covered in scribbles, antique carved graffiti carrying messages of love or simple signatures saying “I was here”. Perhaps more mysterious are the many faces looking back at you. While some of the writing is signed and dated, the faces are not. Legend has it that three old women from Campsie laid a wager on whom could carry the greatest burden, thus each carried a stone in their apron and laid them in position. By some, it is believed to be an ancient Druid altar, or perhaps as Katja adds, ‘they are erratic boulders transported by natural movements of the earth’. When visiting the stones, what struck the artist was not only the sheer scale of the monument and questions of how it got there but the many human interventions in the surface of the rocks. The form of placement of the artworks in Torrance plays with ideas of archaeological discovery, and being situated discreetly at ground level they invite visitors to stoop down and contemplate their expressions. Cast in rust red Jesmonite, their iron colour was chosen to reflect the industrial legacy of East Dunbartonshire and be a visual echo of the many rust red rivers and creeks running through the surrounding landscape.