Glasgow pupils take the reigns in horsey tribute to Mary Queen of Scots’

School pupils from Glasgow have paid a fitting tribute to Mary Queen of Scots using materials from a city recycling centre.

Working closely with two local artists, fifteen students aged 15 to 17 years from Holyrood Secondary School on the south side of the city have created a life-size sculpture of the 16th century Scottish queen’s horse, famously named Pol.

The 7.5ft (230cms) creation will sit pride of place in Viridor’s new visitor centre at the Glasgow Recycling and Renewable Energy Centre (GRREC) at Polmadie. The site, which will use 4,400 horse power to process 200,000 tonnes of council green bin waste every year, is due to officially open later this year.

According to a local fable, Mary rode a horse named Pol at the Battle of Langside in 1568 but while escaping he collapsed and died. On parting company with the animal, Mary was rumoured to have lamented "Pol may dee, but I maun flee” (Pol may die but I must flee).

Now, with support from Viridor’s community benefits team and Glasgow City Council, the legend of Pol the horse has been brought to life using a wealth of everyday materials collected from Glasgow City Council’s Polmadie Recycling Centre which sits next door to the GRREC.

Pierre Dorel, Head of Power Generation and GRREC Plant Manager, said: “This project actually began about two years ago when we asked Holyrood students to come up with an idea for a sculpture which was linked to the local area.

“The area immediately surrounding the GRREC is historically linked to Mary Queen of Scots and the Battle of Langside, so the students came up with the idea of Pol the horse.

“We’re absolutely delighted with the result and can’t wait to show our magnificent Pol off to our visitors.”

To support the project, Glasgow City Council and Holyrood Secondary commissioned two local artists, Caroline Campbell and Simon Richardson, who were also brought on board to work closely with the students to build and dress the sculpture.

Councillor Anna Richardson, City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, said: “It’s great that such an important and innovative facility as the GRREC is being made accessible to the local community through a local legend such as Pol the horse.

“The sculpture of Pol is also a fantastic way of showing the extent of what we discard as waste and how much of it can be actually reused of recycled.

“I can only admire the creativity of everyone involved for the imaginative way in which they have conveyed an important message about sustainability.

“The GRREC is transforming the way that Glasgow deals with its waste, helping to divert the vast majority of it away from landfill and also generating enough electricity to power 22,000 homes. The modern version of Pol is a fitting symbol for a more sustainable Glasgow.”

Simon Richardson was tasked with creating an overall structure which he made using reclaimed materials, including birch plywood and fitted together to make dozens of mini shelves. Pol’s head and tail are made from welded steel. The idea was that each of the shelves could be filled with items that people throw away every day that could be recycled - everything from drinks cans and glass, to plastic bottles and clothing and even computer components – all materials chosen by the school students.

Caroline Campbell, who has a studio nearby, helped dress Pol with the school pupils. She said: “It’s been a real pleasure working with the pupils over the last two years on this unique project. What they have created is a real tribute to the links this area of Glasgow has to Mary Queen of Scots.

“The students brought imagination and humour to the project and their energy and ability to engage with the sculpture was really impressive. They worked boldly and creatively and the final result speaks for itself.”