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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Mary Bourne (b. 1963)

Visual artist, with a particular interest in stone carving, based in north-east Scotland. She was born in Brighton but she and her family moved to Aberdeen in 1970. She attended Edinburgh College of Art, 1981–86, where she was taught to carve by Jake Harvey. Here she was a recipient of the Andrew Grant Travel Scholarship (travelling to France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey), the Andrew Grant Award for Post-Graduate Study, and the John Kinross Scholarship to Florence. She subsequently taught part-time at Edinburgh (1986–91) and Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen (1991–94). In 1995, Bourne was engaged to run a Sculpture Project at Norton Priory, Runcorn, Cheshire; the sculpture resulting from this was Three Spires, in black granite. In 1996 she carved Stone Pages, a series of upright decorative slabs in Caithness flagstone to stand outside Dundee Central Library. In the same year, she was one of 10 sculptors commissioned to carve site-specific sculptures along the course of the River Eden in Cumbria to mark the Millennium. The sculptures, doubling as seating for weary walkers, are known collectively as ‘Eden Benchmarks’. Bourne’s contribution, Water Cut (1997), in Salterwath limestone, is sited at Hanging Lund Scar, Mallerstang. For Eden Court performing arts centre, Inverness, she provided Floorscapes (2007), a series of designs incised into the ground- and first-floor circulating areas. Also in 2007, is her memorial to Mary Slessor (1848–1915), a United Presbyterian Church of Scotland missionary to Calabar, eastern Nigeria; sited in Union Terrace Gardens, Aberdeen, and in Kemnay granite and bronze, its form echoes a traditional Nigerian clay water vessel. Bourne has also collaborated on a number of decorative projects: in Aberdeenshire, at Chalmers Hospital, Banff (2012), Mearns Academy, Laurencekirk (2011–14) and Ellon Academy, Ellon (2011–15); and in Inverness, River Connections (2014–16; part of the River Ness Flood Alleviation Scheme). Her International Workers’ Memorial was unveiled at Friars Shott, Inverness, in 2017. Bourne has exhibited widely, both in the UK and abroad. She served on visual arts committee of the Scottish Arts Council (1995–2000), was a Trustee of the Scottish Sculpture Trust (1998–2000), and a board member of the Scottish Sculpture Workshop (2000–06) and Deveron Arts (2009–17). In 2012 she was elected a Royal Scottish Academician, her choice of Diploma Work falling on her 1994 Dava Targe, in Kilmartin slate. In 2015 she became a member of the Royal Society of Sculptors and in 2023 a Fellow.

Bibliography: Mary Bourne website; D.A. Cross, Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, Liverpool, 2017, pp. 175–76, 196–97; Kilmorack Gallery: Mary Bourne – Biography; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 1, p. 435; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, pp. 177–78; RSA Academicians’ Gallery: Mary Bourne RSA.

Terry Cavanagh, March 2024