Shanks Pony – Kilmarnock

This is the website for the ‘Shanks Pony’ Sculpture project- an artwork by Gordon Rogers commissioned by Sustrans Scotland for the National Cycle Network route in Kilmarnock

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Why Shanks’ Pony?

Although broadly thought of as a cycling charity Sustrans is really a Sustainable Transport organisation and as much about walking as cycling, aiming to enable and encourage more people to travel by foot, bike or public transport and to make those journeys easier and safer. “Shanks’ Pony” is an old scots term for walking – where ‘shanks’ refers to your legs. Although in use since the 1700s the phrase is perhaps best remembered from its use in wartime posters encouraging people to walk rather than use public transport, making room for people doing essential war work.

Why in Kilmarnock?

The principle tool for walking is the shoe. Kilmarnock has a long history of shoe manufacture, reaching its pinnacle with the Saxone Shoe Factory. Shoes and walking feature a great deal in the towns heritage – from John Walker’s whisky being represented by the image of the Striding Man to the Dick Institute being built with the fortune the Dick Brothers made from Gutta Percha, the rubber they marketed as the first alternative to leather for shoe soles.

The Sculpture

The sculpture will be an image of the mythical Shanks’ Pony as if made by shoe makers with details drawn from the ornately decorated Clansman Brogues manufactured by Saxone.

As part of the design and development of the sculpture a number of events and workshops are being held in which historical background and creative ideas behind the work will be researched and discussed. These included an event looking at Dandy Horses held at Killie Can Cycle, and a drama workshop with Dunlop Young Players in which we imagined the personality of Shanks’ Pony

At these events we explored various elements of the works development but you can also contribute here. Use the comments forms on any of the pages to tells us more about the themes of the work – perhaps information about shoe manufacture in Kilmarnock and Ayrshire – perhaps more about the phrase “Shanks’ Pony” or similar phrases. Click on the various posts on this site to find out more about about the different creative and historical elements of the project.

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