A three metre tall Beltie bull handcrafted from wicker and a stunning mural have helped rubber stamp Dumfries and Galloway’s influence on this week’s Royal Highland Showcase.

As spectators are not allowed into the Ingliston showground in Edinburgh because of the pandemic, people are invited to watch online.

It has a local edge this year as Dumfries and Galloway is the host region and Fiona Armstrong, honorary president of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, and her team are showcasing the region’s farming, culture and heritage as her President’s Initiative.

She said: “We want people everywhere to know how much the region has to offer. These two artworks emphasise what a beautiful, colourful and vibrant place it is to visit and to do business.”

The Beltie, which weighs in at more than a tonne and measures 4.2m long, was made by Auchencairn willow artist and sculptor, Trevor Leat, whose figures are familiar from the Wickerman music festivals.

Artists Trench, left and Elph at their stunning mural with Cathy Agnew.
Artists Trench, left and Elph at their stunning mural with Cathy Agnew.

He 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.”

Meanwhile, the famous underpass where the finest livestock are led in and out of the Ingliston arena has been painted with a magnificent mural depicting animals, wildlife and scenes from Dumfries and Galloway.

It is a collaboration between OutPost Arts of Langholm and Edinburgh artists Ross Blair and Brian McFeely.

Ross was in the headlines last week after visiting US President Joe Biden was presented with a framed photograph of one of his murals.

He said: “We hope that people will go ‘wow’ as they walk towards it and that they will really enjoy the sheer variety of images and scenes – all inspired by Dumfries and Galloway.”

Lucy MacLeod, creative director of OutPost Arts, said: “We were really keen to reflect the character of the region, its culture, natural environment, wildlife, agriculture and multitude of different landscapes. It’s been an real group effort between OutPost Arts and Ross and Brian. 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.”