Appeal to save renowned sculptor's unique Borders home for the nation

An appeal has been launched to save the unique Borders home of acclaimed artist Tim Stead for the nation after a bid for funding to purchase the property was knocked back a UK heritage body.

This unique four-poster bed, hand-crafted by sculptor and furniture-maker Tim Stead, is just one of the marvels in the Steading
This unique four-poster bed, hand-crafted by sculptor and furniture-maker Tim Stead, is just one of the marvels in the Steading

The A-listed Steading complex is now due to go up for public sale if the charity set up to preserve his legacy cannot raise the cash to buy it.

The group is looking to raise £450,000 in a last-ditch attempt to secure the property for posterity.

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Works by sculptor, furniture maker and poet Tim Stead, who died in 2000 at the age of 48, include Café Gandolfi in Glasgow, the Millennium Clock at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and the oil industry memorial chapel in the Kirk of St Nicholas in Aberdeen.

Well-known works by Tim Stead include the oil industry memorial chapel in the Kirk of St Nicholas in Aberdeen

He was also a keen environmentalist, raising funds to create the UK’s first community woodland in the Scottish Borders and helping form the Carrifran rewilding project at the turn of the century.

But his family home in Blainslie, near Lauder, is widely regarded as his single most important work.

It stands as a tribute to his love of wood and his astounding craftsmanship, with the interior featuring entirely original sculpted fixtures and fittings.

The Tim Stead Trust was established in 2015 with the aim of saving the house and its contents as a part of Scotland’s national heritage, benefiting the country and the local community.

But fears have been raised that the building will be lost to the public when it goes on sale early next year after an application to the UK’s National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) for full funding was turned down.

Much of the unique furniture that would have stayed in the Steading, pledged as a gift to the trust, will also now be sold.

The coronavirus crisis, which has had a major impact on the viability of heritage properties, was one of the main reasons cited by the NHMF for the rejection.

The decision comes as “terrible news”, according to Maggy Stead, the artist’s widow.

“This was my last hope that the Steading could be saved as part of national heritage.”

Nichola Fletcher, chair of the Tim Stead Trust, said, “We are gutted.

“We have prepared a fantastic programme to make the future of the Steading not only secure and viable, but of huge benefit to a wide spectrum of people who are inspired by the extraordinary work of Tim Stead.

“It would give real, genuine benefit, both locally and nationally, and we have dozens of local organisations wanting to work in partnership with us.”

She added: “Now we appeal for someone out there who could step into the fire right now and offer us private funds before the year’s end to save it for the nation.”

Private buyers are already lining up for a chance to snap up the house, which is scheduled to be sold early in 2021.

Details about the property and how to support the appeal can be found on the Tim Stead Trust website.

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