Whitby coble decorates Scottish Parliament

Ian Hamilton Finlay's Whitby Coble is on display at the Scottish Parliament
Ian Hamilton Finlay's Whitby Coble is on display at the Scottish Parliament

THE close ties between Whitby’s fishing community and our northern neighbours are clearly on show in Scotland’s Parliament building.

On prominent display in the Parliament building is a piece of art by Ian Hamilton Finlay, one of Scotland’s leading artists, which features a coble bearing the registration WY 149.

Fiona Andres is art curator at the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh and met the artist a number of times before his death in 2006.

Although she could not explain why the artist chose to use a Whitby coble, she said the artwork is one of the most prominent pieces on display in the building.

“Every member of the public that goes into the debating chamber gallery passes below his work and it is there as a reminder of our bonds with the sea”, added Mrs Andres.

“As an outward looking nation, it’s rather lovely that this artwork connects the Scottish Parliament to the north of England, where the coble design originates, but specifically to the fishing town of Whitby, which even today has connections with our fishing communities in Fraserburgh and Peterhead.”

The last vessel to bear the registration WY 149 was Staithes skipper Nigel Inshley’s Sedulous, which was built in 1974.

The work has been on display in the building since it opened in 2004 and reflects the artist’s interest in maritime history.

Mrs Andres added: “There is humour and playfulness in much of his work.

“The abstract construction of the coble is most likely a pun on the word ‘cobble’, meaning to ‘to build clumsily’, but the Whitby connection is a nice one and stirs the imagination.”