October 31, 2009

Frank Bruce, Sculpture garden (Feshiebridge)

"one world"
this picture (2008, Flickr) and the
next two courtesy of Leanne Eddie

The pictures depict the wooden creations by Frank Bruce (1931-2009). a Scottish self-taught artist who became a sculptor beloved by the general public.

Life and works

Bruce was born in a family of fishermen in the community of St Combs in Scotland. As a youngster attending school was problematic because he was dyslectic, which probably was not recognized these days. Thinking in images and forms, rather than in words, Bruce preferred the world of nature, such as the forms of trees in the forest, above the world of books and scholarly knowledge.

So after leaving school at age 13 he refrained from further education but went to work, entering all kind of jobs, like working in a saw mill or unloading coal boats, jobs that are rather physically burdening.

In the 1960s, by now married, he and his wife settled in the community of Aviemore, where the couple began a bread & breakfast.

Due to an accident Bruce blessed his back and as kind of a manual therapy he did some wood sculpting which was the beginning of a new creative adventure.

"third world" (fragment)

At first he made small wooden objects, but soon he began making sculptures in large formats, using dead trees as his basic material, feeling inspired by themes associated with nature, Scottish folklore and patriotism.

"two patriots"

The rather large sculptures were displayed in the garden around the family house in Aviemore.

The site in Banff

When the garden proved too small for the collection, around 1995 a new site became available. In agreement with the authorities of the community of Banff, on the Scottish east coast, the Colleonard Sculpture Garden and Gallery was opened on Sandy Hill Road.

a view of the Colleonard Sculpture Garden
picture from the website Artesian Arts

It displayed some fourteen of Bruce's large sculptures.The exposition enjoyed the interest of thousands of visitors and the garden was never vandalized.

The sculpture trail in Feshiebridge

Meanwhile this garden has been closed because -with the help of the Scottish Forestry Commission- another location for the sculptures was created. This one, opened November 2007, is located in Feshiebridge, in the Cairngorms National Park, in the interior of Scotland, not far from Aviemore.

In these natural surroundings the sculptures are exposed along a trail.

A trust takes care of the sculptures

Some years before Frank Bruce passed away (September 2009) already a Frank Bruce Sculpture Trust was founded which assisted in the creation of the sculpture trail and takes care of Bruce's artistic legacy.

Some  sculptures are gradually decaying

A text on the Forestry and Land Scotland website, dated 24 October 2019 and titled Saying goodbye to the sculptures of Frank Bruce, indicates that some of the wooden sculptures are gradually decaying. It is noted that "the inevitable fact that some of the sculptures would weaken and fail, whilst others stood the test of time, was a key element of the sculptor's original concept"

The June 2022 Much Better Adventures website has an informative article about this with a series of photos.

* The Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail website, with information about the accessibility of the trail
* John Thorne, "Frank Bruce. Polemics in Pine", in Reforesting Scotland, nr 46 (autumn/winter 2012) (the author is a trustee of the Frank Bruce Sculpture Trust)
* A series of pictures, including explanatory notes, on the weblog of Simon and Karen Pavin (2012)

first published October 2009, last revised October 2022

Frank Bruce
Sculpture Trail
Feshiebridge, Cairngorms National Park, 
Scotland, United Kingdom
open for the public


  1. His sculptures look incredibly well done, amazing given that he started so late in life... so maybe there is some hope yet for us old-timers, eh ? Am off to take a look at the other photo sources and website you mentioned.

    And as always, but I never get tired of saying it, thank you for expanding my universe just a little bit more...

  2. Hi Owen, Blogging -like me- on a rainy sunday afternoon? The website you refer to, is rather complete. There is a personal statement by mr Bruce himself about his youth and what inspired him to do his (indeed wonderful!) sculpting. He looked at trees in a special way. No wonder, his work is greeted by so many people from Scotland.
    All the best....

  3. What a happy accident it was, first, that Mr Bruce left the school, or perhaps we would had another doctor or a lawyer =). Second, that he began sculpting, even, as Owen says, at an older age. It is never late to begin a project I think. Sometime the traditional model of education is not the best for raising someone´s talent and skills. And by keeping his own way, Mr Bruce stayed away from the tyranny of the trends. As a matter of fact, outsiders are always fighting against all kind of tyrannies. Is a fortune that modern education also focus on prompt the artistic skills of the youth, otherwise, many talents would had been lost.