Can public art really revive the most dismal place in Scotland?

The reviled new town of Cumbernauld pins hopes on giant sculpture costing £250,000

The post-war politicians, planners and architects who built Cumbernauld had a utopian vision: for future generations to create a happier, more gracious life away from the filthy tenements and sectarianism of decaying Glasgow. And in the 1960s and early 1970s the people answered their call, relocating in their thousands to enjoy the wide open spaces, plentiful jobs and modern homes.

Recent history however has proved a cruel judge of that dream and the Lanarkshire new town has found itself one of the most reviled places in Britain. The home of the UK's first shopping mall has been named Scotland's most dismal place and likened to Kabul. In 2005 the shopping complex was nominated by the public for destruction as part of Channel 4's Demolition series.

But Cumbernauld is fighting back. Yesterday, a vast galvanised steel woman named Arria was erected in the sporadic sunshine at a hillside cemetery. It is hoped she will be a symbol of change for the town. Created by the Scottish artist Andy Scott, whose works include the celebrated Heavy Horse on Glasgow's M8 and the Thanksgiving Square Beacon in Belfast, the 33ft female figure, with a retro hairstyle suggestive of the town's 1960s new arrivals, will be seen by 70,000 motorists on the A80 each day.

Arria cost £250,000 of public money and is intended to help reverse the town's negative stereotypes. The name was selected by local people and is taken from Arria Fadilla, mother of Emperor Antoninus who built the nearby Antonine Wall.

The real sign of public acceptance, as with other public statues, will come with the acquisition of a nickname.

"It is a great idea," said Geraldine Reilly, a 31-year-old civil servant in Cumbernauld. "People don't see the good things about the town like the people or the beautiful countryside on our doorstep – they just see the shopping centre. This is a great place to bring up kids."

Others were not so convinced. Billy Zanieri, 44, unemployed, said: "It has been a waste of money. Housing is very bad here and the money could have gone on schools." And beautician Amanda McGuinness, 25, believed it was impossible ever to love Cumbernauld. "It needs burning down and rebuilding – especially the town centre. It needs new shops, new restaurants and new bars – something to liven the place up at night."

Naming rights...

When a public artwork receives a nickname, it is a sign that people have come to know, if not love, the work.

Molly Malone, Dublin

The statue of the celebrated fishmonger is alternatively known as the Trollop with the Scallop or the Tart with the Cart. Dubliners have demonstrated a disrespectful genius in re-christening their public artworks. Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square has been dubbed the Queer with the Sneer while even the lofty James Joyce brandishing his walking stick has been called the Prick with the Stick.

Angel of the North, Gateshead

Antony Gormley's imposing 20-metre figure soaring above motorists on the A1 is known to Geordies as the Rusty Flasher.

Thanksgiving Square Beacon, Belfast

Andy Scott's symbol of hope cost £300,000 when built in 2007 and is now a popular attraction. Locals refer to it as Nula with the Hula, the Bell with the Ball or the Thing with the Ring.

Draped Seated Woman, Stepney, east London

Henry Moore’s famous bronze once sought to beautify the concrete towers of Stifford Estate. Residents warmed to the old girl christening her Old Flo. She now resides in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park though some want her brought back to the redeveloped East End site in time for the Olympics.

Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Jude Law in Black Sea


In Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before

Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops


Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game