Irvine is to feature in a new BBC documentary about the art scene of Scotland’s new towns.

The town features alongside East Kilbride, Glenrothes, Livingston and Cumbernauld in ‘Meet You at the Hippos’ as actor Mark Bonnar set off on a voyage of discovery around Scotland’s post-war new towns.

Along the way, Mark discovers why these Scottish new towns came to be built, how they enticed people out of overcrowded cities like Glasgow, and uncovers surprising ways in which public art changed the new towns and the new towns changed public art.

Irvine Development Corporation, in contrast to other new towns in Scotland, employed a new artist-in-residence every two years, starting in January 1979.

Until the Corporation was wound up in 1996, it employed nine artists, each with very different skills, ranging from mural painting to wood and stone sculptures, to stained glass and printmaking.

Mark’s interest in the subject stems from the fact his dad, artist Stan Bonnar, made Glenrothes’ famous concrete Hippos, which are to be found dotted around the Fife town.

It all leads Mark to a deeper understanding of his own father’s approach to creating art, while helping him grasp the context and legacy of Scotland’s new towns, the town artists and their work.


BBC Scotland Tuesday 30th November at 10 pm