Artist casts replica Greyfriars Bobby noses to halt rubbing craze
An Edinburgh artist fed up with tourists rubbing off the patina from Greyfriars Bobby’s nose has dreamt up a genius solution to put a stop to the destructive trend.
During lockdown, Denny Hunter, 46, used an impression from the landmark dog statue in Edinburgh’s Old Town to create bronze replica noses and has framed the results to be sold to the public.
Mr Hunter, who works as an art technician at the City Art Centre, said he envisaged the noses as a substitute for tourists who have been rubbing the real Bobby for good luck and wearing away his dark patina.
The idea that touching the Skye Terrier’s nose brings good fortune is said to have been popularised by a tour guide around ten years ago. Since then, Bobby’s world-famous bronze muzzle has had to undergo costly repairs to reverse the damage.
However, and despite pleas from the council and local campaigners to prevent people doing it, the superstitious trend has continued unabated.
Mr Hunter hopes his idea can finally put a stop to the phenomenon.
He said: “Every day on my walk back from work, especially during the festival, I would walk around this massive crowd of people at Greyfriars Bobby and it would just anger me.
"One of my friends is a conservator at the council and looks after Bobby. When people touch the nose, it destroys the patina on it and eventually the elements get to it and the statue begins to deteriorate.
"I thought to myself ‘if I make some Bobby noses out of cold cast resin, then people could buy them and they wouldn’t have to rub the Bobby’ – so to speak."
Mr Hunter’s framed replicas come in two varieties, though he is keen to stress the prices reflect the high cost of production. The smaller version, a 1:1 replica of Bobby’s nose, is priced at £175, with the large version, a limited edition featuring Bobby’s entire muzzle, retailing for £495.
Five per cent of the sale price from each nose will go to animal welfare charity the SSPCA, in honour of Lady Burdett-Coutts, who commissioned the original statue in 1873 and was a keen supporter of animal rights.
Mr Hunter has also committed to donating a portion of the profits towards a full repair of the iconic dog statue.
He said: "After we reach 20 sales of the large nose, we will allocate funds to have Bobby’s nose repatinated one more time. Hopefully the idea of buying a nose will sink in and he will not need any more repairs after that.
"But aside from the conservation aspect, there is also the pandemic – you don’t want people touching the nose and spreading the virus."
For the time being, Mr Hunter is producing the framed noses in his attic. Should they begin to sell in healthy numbers, he plans to move to larger premises.
Mr Hunter, who is also selling a range of face coverings featuring the legendary pooch’s nose, has set up an online crowdfunder to give his new venture the kick-start it needs. Those who contribute will benefit by receiving the Bobby noses at a reduced price.
Mr Hunter says the Bobby noses will go on general sale at Edinburgh Museums & Galleries sites and other select outlets in due course.
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