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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Batchelor

5 Of The Best Public Art Pieces In Dundee

Dundee boasts an ever growing presence of public art on the city streets. So to celebrate, Dundee Culture looks at the five of the best pieces of public art in the city.

Dundee Dragon

The Dundee Dragon can be seen patrolling the Murraygate day and night.

The Dundee Dragon patrols the city centre day in and day out. Situated on Dundee’s Murraygate, the dragon is one of the most popular pieces of public art in the city.

Designed by the late Tony Morrow, the Dundee Dragon is inspired from the tale of Martin and the Nine Maidens, a story which is linked with the city.

The story goes that there was a farmer who lived on the outskirts of Dundee who sent one of his daughters to fetch water from a well — and she never came back. So he sent another daughter, and she never came back, this kept happening up until he sent his ninth daughter and yet still no sign.

The farmer decided to go to the well and he was met with a gory sight — a dragon, sleeping with the corpses of his nine daughters.

The farmer was said to run back to the village, he ran to Martin, one of the daughters lovers, to help slay the dragon. Martin was furious, so he decided to round up the villagers and they went to slay the dragon.

When confronting the dragon, the villagers shouted “Strike, Martin!” which was said to be the reason by the name “Strathmartine”. Martin managed to slay the dragon and has a rhyme associated with the demise of the dragon:

  • Tempted at Pitempton

  • Draigled at Baldragon

  • Stricken at Strathmartine

  • And killed at Martins Stone

Dundee Penguins

The Dundee Penguins are firm favourite with Dundonians and visitors alike.

Sculpted by Angela Hunter, the Dundee Penguins are a favourite with the locals and visitors to Dundee. Situated in the shadow of the City Churches on the Nethergate, the penguins symbolises the city’s connections with the beloved species.

Of course, the RRS Discovery is a symbol of Dundee’s fantastic role in finding out more about Antarctica and the crew of one of the expeditions that the Discovery took to the previously untouched continent, .

Another fabulous feature of the Dundee Penguins is that they also dress up for notable occasions in the city. From graduations for Dundee and Abertay — to woolie jumpers during the festive period.

When coming to Dundee, you should visit these cute wee waddlers.

Oor Wullie

If you’re visiting the magnificent McManus Galleries, chances are you will come across Oor Wullie, sculpted by Malcolm Robertson, Wullie can be seen smiling towards the DC Thomson headquarters — the place that brings him to life every Sunday in the Sunday Post!

Oor Wullie is a beloved comic character and when you visit him in Albert Square, you can sit on his famous bucket and take a fantastic selfie with this happy go lucky lad.

Tay Whale

The stunning Tay Whale sculpture that remembers the humpback whale which sadly lost its life, but is beloved by Dundonians to this very day.

The newest art piece on this list comes in the form of the stunning Tay Whale which is situated at the city’s brand new Waterfront Gardens.

The Tay Whale is inspired from a sad event that happened in Dundee back in 1883, when a humpback whale swam into the Firth of Tay. It was harpooned in a hunt, but escaped, and was found floating dead off Stonehaven a week later.

You can visit the remains of the Tay Whale at the fabulous McManus Galleries in the heart of the city. Although the story is gruesome, it immortalises such a beloved animal in our city’s history, and the whale is remembered a century on in this breathtaking piece of art, brought to life by the incredibly talented Lee Simmons.

Bruin the Polar Bear

Bruin the polar bear is a new addition to the city’s ever growing public art scene.

Another amazing piece of public art based on an event in the city is the Polar Bear, sculpted by David Annan, which is located just off Castle Street on the High Street.

And yes — there is a reason why it is there!

This piece of public art commemorates the 1878 escape and subsequent safe recapture of a polar bear named Bruin, one of two brought from Davis’ Straits by a local whaling ship and bought for exhibition in Commercial Street by a Mr Woods.

Bruin escaped and roamed the city’s High Street. It is said that he walked into the shop where the sculpture is situated in front of, and got distracted at its own reflection in a mirror, which led to him being caught.

It’s a beloved new piece of public art — and is frequently a popular spot with tourists who visit the city.


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