Laurel and Hardy mosaics unveiled in Bo’ness ahead of Scotland’s only silent film festival

Alistair Young, a relative of the late Larbert actor, James Finlayson, unveiled the Laurel and Hardy coin mosaic in Bo'ness Library
Alistair Young, a relative of the late Larbert actor, James Finlayson, unveiled the Laurel and Hardy coin mosaic in Bo'ness Library

Two visually-arresting coin portraits of the world’s most iconic comedy duo are on display at Bo’ness Library ahead of the launch of this year’s Hippodrome Silent Film Festival (HippFest).

The large-scale art-works of Laurel and Hardy were created by artist Ed Chapman and commissioned by Julian Pickford to celebrate the recently released Stan & Ollie film.

Created entirely from coins to represent each star’s home country, Stan Laurel, born in Lancashire, is depicted using British pennies, while Oliver Hardy, born in Harlem, Georgia, is made of US cents.

Although born in England, Laurel spent time growing up in Scotland and, as a teenager, had his first professional performance at the Panopticon Music Hall in Glasgow.

Another Scottish connection comes in the form of Larbert actor James Finlayson who starred alongside them in films such as Do Detectives Think?, Flying Elephants and Big Business.

Three years ago a petition was circulated to erect a statue in Finlayson’s honour in Falkirk town centre but as yet no firm plans have been announced.

Alistair Young, a proud relative of Mr Finlayson, was invited to unveil the coin mosaics at Bo’ness Library describing his famous ancestor as “a local hero and comedy genius”.

He added: “He made my grandparents proud and brought immense joy to fans of Laurel and Hardy worldwide.”

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Julian Pickford described the coin portraits as “wonderful works of art” while Alison Strauss, arts development officer at Falkirk Community Trust and HippFest director, added: “We all need more Laurel and Hardy in our lives.”

She added: “Even after all these decades their films never fail to raise the roof at the Hippodrome and their legacy continues to inspire artists, like Ed Chapman, performers and cinema fans.”

Going on to talk about Hippfest 2019, Alison said: “We are thrilled to have such a fantastic line-up of musicians and performers coming to the festival this year and we look forward to welcoming audiences from all over the world.”

The Laurel and Hardy mosaics will be on show at Bo’ness Library every day except Sundays until March 26. Fans can also indulge in a triple bill of the comedy heroes’ films on Sunday, March 23.

In keeping with the coin portrait exhibits Bo’ness Library staff are running a free mosaic workshop on Saturday, March 23 from 12:30 to 2pm, suitable for all ages.

HippFest organisers are also holding a competition inviting local school pupils to create a mosaic of someone they admire.

HippFest is annually produced by Falkirk Community Trust with funding and support from Falkirk Council, Film Hub Scotland (BFI Film Audience Network), Creative Scotland and Visit Falkirk.

Now in its ninth year, it has become a key event in the cultural calendar, drawing audiences from all over the world.

This year’s programme is packed with feature screenings, world-class live music accompaniment, talks, workshops and tours.

The festival officially opens on Wednesday, March 20 with a rare Rob Roy screening from 1922 but those who can’t wait until then can go along to view the 1929 detective thriller, Hound of the Baskervilles, on at the Hippodrome this Saturday (March 16).

Orther notable films this year include Moulin Rouge, Laila, The Cat and the Canary, The Red Heroine and a special outdoor screening of The Railroad Stowaways and The Railway of Death at Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway on Saturday, March 23.

For further information on all HippFest 2019 events call 01324 506850 or visit www.hippfest.co.uk