IT HAS become one of the most popular features of the Scottish Parliament building. Carved into the grey wall facing on to Edinburgh's Canongate, the quotations from celebrated Scots are established as an attraction in their own right.
Now the search is on for another wordsmith to join the likes of Robert Burns, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Robert Louis Stevenson, Alasdair Gray and Andrew Carnegie by having their words immortalised at Holyrood.
Plans were unveiled yesterday to mark the tenth anniversary of devolution by adding a striking new quote to the 25 already on the Canongate wall.
The quotations – which also feature words from the Bible, Sir Walter Scott, Edwin Morgan and Hugh MacDiarmid – were selected from public nominations when the building was being designed by the architect Enric Miralles. A panel comprising MSPs, Robyn Marsack, director of the Scottish Poetry Library, Marion Bourbouze, of the Scottish Book Trust, and the poet Douglas Dunn will draw up a shortlist for the latest addition after nominations close at the end of August.
The winner is due to be chosen in October and the new carving unveiled on St Andrew's Day.
Announcing the start of the search, Alex Fergusson, the parliament's presiding officer, said: "The Canongate wall was always supposed to be a living wall, one that we would add to when the time was right. We believe that as we approach our tenth anniversary, that time is now.
"We are asking people to nominate a well-loved or significant piece of writing that is relevant for Scotland, perhaps something that expresses how they feel about Scotland, what it means to be Scottish, or hopes for the future."
Nominations can be from writers dead or alive, or even anonymous, but no more than 50 words are allowed. Suggestions for writing in English, Gaelic or traditional Scots are being welcomed. Stewart Conn, a former Edinburgh Makar, suggested an extract from fellow poet Nancy Somerville's The Big Hooley, written to mark the open day of the parliament.
Frank McAveety, a former culture minister, said: "The thing about the Canongate wall is there's not much to reflect the nation's sense of humour. I'd love to see something by Bud Neill, the great Glaswegian cartoonist."
Margo MacDonald, the Independent MSP, said: "I know some people do like the wall and it's certainly one of the less controversial aspects of the building, like the leaky roof or the windows that don't keep the rain out. I'd be happy to have 'Here's tae us, wha's like us' myself."
QUOTES ALREADY ON THE WALL
There is hope in honest error;
None in the icy perfections of the mere stylist.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Bright is the ring of words.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.
So, cam' all ye at hame wi' freedom
Never heed whit the hoodies croak for doom
In your hoose a' the bairns o' Adam
Can find breid, barley bree an' painted room.
Hamish Henderson, The Freedom come all ye
Put all your eggs into one basket – and then watch that basket.
Here's a few suggestions...
Academic Derrick McClure, chair of the Scottish Language Forum
Let's ca' in the folk to the auld house
The puir folk a' thegither:
It's sunkit on rock is the auld house
And the rock's their brither.
(From The Auld House by William Soutar, 1898-1943)
Leading chef Tony Singh
Some hae meat, and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.
Selkirk Grace, by Robert Burns
Former culture minister Frank McAveety
Winter's come the snow has fell
Wee Josie's nose is froze as well
Wee Josie's frozen nose is skintit
Winter's diabolic, intit?
It's Winter, by Bud Neill
James Boyle, former chair of the Scottish Art Council
We the Scottish people undertake
To take just pride in all our diverse tongues,
Folks and customs – and also what is yet
Most distinct in us: our infinite songs,
our profligate invention and our thrawn debate.
From the poem "We, the Scottish people, undertake" by Don Paterson
Do you have any suggestions for a new quote on the Holyrood wall? Leave your comments below