Eight-foot feathers cause a flutter

A Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD) graduate and a current student have sees giant sculptures they designed to celebrate the history and return of sea eagles to East Scotland unveiled at Broughty Ferry.

Ellen Brown and Katie Watt entered RSPB Scotland competitions to mark the reintroduction of the birds. They saw off the challenge of nearly 50 classmates to win the two competitions, with Ellen designing the eight-foot sculpture’s feathers to accompany Katie’s etched interpretation. Their designs have now been installed at Broughty Ferry’s Grassy beach by Dundee City Council, following funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Sea eagles, also known as white-tailed eagles, were once common across Scotland, but were driven to extinction by persecution. Having been successfully reintroduced to the west coast, the East Scotland Sea Eagle (ESSE) project aimed to help them establish across the rest of the country.

Between 2007 and 2012, 85 birds were reintroduced in a joint project between RSPB Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, and Scottish Natural Heritage. Ellen and Katie’s interpretation tells the story of sea eagles on Scotland’s east coast, from their appearance on Pictish stones to the first successful post-reintroduction breeding since in 2013.

Ellen said, “My class was given the great opportunity to work with RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, and Forestry Commission Scotland, to create work that would promote their East Scotland Sea Eagle project.

“Not only was it exciting to be working on a brief with input from outside the art college, it also gave us a great chance to gain insight into a project we may not have heard about otherwise. I’ve loved the opportunity to work with everyone and help create something that will allow people to gain insight into the reintroduction project the way I did.”

Katie added, "It has been interesting to have the opportunity to work on a project that has become a reality. I hope that people will enjoy the site and it will encourage people to use the cycle path and walkway along the Tay."

Ellen (24) is from Kirkcaldy. In 2012, she graduated from DJCAD with a degree in Illustration. Twenty-four-year-old Katie is from Glasgow and is currently in her final year of her Illustration course.

Will Dawson, convener of Dundee City Council's city development committee, said, “Ellen’s feathers and Katie’s etched interpretation are an exciting new public artwork situated in a fantastic location on the coastline with the open views up and down the Tay. I hope people stop to view the work, and who knows, even see a sea eagle fly by.”   

Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said, “Today’s unveiling is an important milestone in a project which gives us all the opportunity to learn more about the sea eagle and the role it plays in Scotland’s biodiversity. With this knowledge people will be able to help safeguard its existence so that this glorious bird of prey can continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.”

Rhian Evans, from RSPB Scotland, said, “It’s great to see the success of the East Scotland Sea Eagle reintroduction project celebrated with such creative and striking interpretation. Last year we celebrated our first successful breeding attempt on the east coast of Scotland in more than 200 years, and the success of that chick is part of the story that is being told here, thanks to the support of HLF.”


Notes to editors:


For further information, please contact:

Kirsty Nutt, RSPB Communications Officer, on 01224 627869 or 07711385595.

Images, interviews and video to support this story can be captured on the day.

1.            26 students took part in the initial design competition, won by Ellen Brown, who designed the ‘Feathers’. A further 20 students took part in the second part of the competition for the accompanying interpretation. Katie Watt, who is currently in her final year won the second competition.

2.            East Scotland Sea Eagles (ESSE) is a partnership project between the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland. This project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (2011-2014), the Scottish Government, and the European community Leader in Fife and Rural Tayside (2011-2013).

3.            The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.



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