Dundee is no stranger to public art, with a variety of statues around the city, celebrating local history and wildlife. The city’s creative output is featured too with the Dandy’s Desperate Dan and Minnie The Minx in the city centre.
The new sculptures however focus on the city’s legacy in the games industry. Three exploring Lemmings have been immortalised in bronze, wandering along a wall, looking for the exit.
Lemmings was created by DMA Design and originally published back in 1991 for the Amiga. It was one of the first international blockbusters. The game was a critical success and went on become one of the most widely ported (redeveloped for other computer systems and games consoles) of all time, with over 25 different versions reaching the market. According to Wikipedia, the game sold over 15,000,000 copies between 1991 and 2006.
The idea for a Lemmings sculpture came about when Colin Anderson from Denki suggested that there should be a piece of public art celebrating Dundee’s games industry.
I was a fan of the original Lemmings game, having played and completed it! And since I have a degree in Fine Art (Sculpture), I got to work on a purely speculative basis!
I proposed the idea to the Head of Public Art at Dundee City Council, who was also interested in celebrating Dundee’s digital heritage.
After a number of different designs I decided that the Lemmings should be smaller and that the location should be at Seabraes on the Perth Road.
My idea behind this location was that the lemmings had “wandered” out of their birthplace – DMA’s original office at the bottom of the Perth Road – and made their way up to this picturesque location at Seabraes where they are acting as “guardians” to welcome people to Dundee’s new Digital Media Park, accessible via the adjacent stairs.
As part of the piece I wanted to incorporate the physical environment, so the low stone wall and pillars act like a 2D game level which the little lemmings are trying to traverse – a lookout is atop one pillar scouting the way across, while behind him a climber clambers up and below a builder is laying bricks.
The piece is still “unfinished” as the original proposal was actually for 7 lemmings, however there was only enough funding for 3, but it is hoped that at some point, extra funding will become available to enable the piece to be finished off.
We’re delighted to see Dundee recognising the city’s pioneering role in gaming and want to congratulate Alyson on a fantastic job. It would be incredible to see the sculpture completed with seven Lemmings in place. We hope funding can be found from somewhere to make it happen. In the meantime, here’s an exclusive preview of how the completed piece would look.
If you want to know more about the history of DMA Design, Lemmings or the company’s other titles, completed and otherwise, we can recommend two excellent websites: DMADESIGN.ORG and DMADESIGN.NET are sites created and run by ex-DMA folks (Mike Dailly and Steve Hammond respectively).