A new sculpture representing life and growth has emerged in the foothills of the Cairngorms. "Forest Flow" is by Scottish artist Rob Mulholland and is at Fettercairn Distillery.
The artwork is made from 800 metres of 12mm round recycled stainless steel bars, 3,200 pieces in total. It's inspired by a project 10 years in the making that has seen tens of thousands of oak saplings planted next to Fettercairn Distillery. The project, on the 8,500 acre Fasque Estate, establishes a new land management vision for the next 200 years. It provides responsibly sourced wood to mature whisky. And, will mean Fettercairn can make single estate whiskies.
It sits on a clear pool of pure spring water from a natural source only a few hundred yards away. It takes inspiration from the endless cycle of growth as saplings draw water and nutrients from the ground and circulate them to create life. Looking out to the new Forest, it depicts the essential whisky making ingredients: water, barley and wood for maturation. The sculpture also celebrates the unique water-cooling ring on the stills at Fettercairn. This ring allows only the finest vapours to rise, creating the purest spirit.
Rob Mulholland said: “Fettercairn Distillery is embedded in the landscape. It draws its raw materials from its natural surroundings. The water, barley and the future oak forest are all within sight of the distillery. I wanted to capture all these elements in my sculpture. I was inspired by the water flowing into the distillery from the nearby well, filling the mash tuns and pouring over the outside of the stills. There's a constant sense of movement and life as the water is circulated over the stills and then naturally cooled and re-circulated.
This is the same water that sustains the newly planted Fettercairn forest. It nourishes the surrounding landscape, a connection between the land and the distillery. I wanted to capture this life-giving flow in my sculpture. To convey the close relationship that the whole whisky process has with the natural environment. I imagined the water flowing over the still, solidifying into metal to create an organic sculptural form as it emerges from a pool of clear water. As if some unseen alchemical process had transformed the water into solid steel. On the outer edges a scattering of oak leaves form in a circle symbolising the new Fettercairn forest. The reflective clear pool captures the mirror image of the sculpture. At the same time it captures the reflection of the sky and changing light as time passes by. Time is a key element in creating whisky and in creating sculpture. I hope that my work conveys both crafts and harnesses our respect for the natural environment at Fettercairn."
Stewart Walker is the Distillery Manager at Fettercairn. He said: “We love the idea that Rob’s stunning work will keep watch over the oaks in our forest 200 years from now. We are proud when we look at Rob’s artistic endeavours. The sculpture has movement, texture and its shadows and reflections are constantly changing. It feels in keeping with its environment and for our whisky making philosophy. We are confident it will become iconic on our landscape, loved by visitors and the local community alike.”
The Fettercairn Forest project is led by whisky maker Gregg Glass. Gregg has conducted many trials with wind-felled and responsibly sourced Scottish oak.
The Distillery has already laid down whiskies in different types of Scottish Oak cask. It plans to release the first commercially available Fettercairn Scottish Oak bottling next year. The sculpture will be incorporated into the Distillery visitor experience from 2022.