Six months of planning, three weeks of construction and masses of willow and straw are set to go up in smoke this weekend at the Wickerman Festival.
This year will see Primal Scream and Amy MacDonald headline the music bill of the two-day event in Dumfries and Galloway, but the star of the show is expected to be the willow Wickerman sculpture.
Artists Trevor Leat and Alex Rigg have designed and created all 11 previous sculptures for the annual festival at East Kirkcarswell near Dundrennan, and on Saturday they will set fire to their 12th Wickerman.
“For the first two it was quite shocking, it’s quite sad to see it all go because we put so much into it but it’s the spectre of the burn and how it looks in the moment, which can change very much by the weather, is what we are working towards,” said Mr Leat.
The 20 to 30 minutes of burning which will take place after the performance by Amy MacDonald on Saturday will bring the artists’ seven-month project to an end. The pair started sketching ideas for the 50ft sculpture in January.
Mr Leat added: “We want the sculpture to look like a live, living thing with movement, not just some still form, and for many people that come here it is a highlight to their weekend and we want it to be a really spectacular thing that they take away with them.
“It’s about creating something that we really like and are happy with. It is a piece of art, not just a festival icon.”
Setting fire to the sculpture is a nervous time for the artists as Mr Rigg explained: “There are a lot of variables in burning it, so depending on weather and how we made it, how the materials react and the wind speed are major factors.
“We want it to look good when it burns, so that’s why we get anxious about it.”
The sculpture is built on a one-tonne steel frame which acts as a skeleton each year and is supported by a concrete base.
As is the tradition, this year’s design remains a secret until the weekend, with Mr Rigg only able to say that it is “based on a legend with a local twist”.
The weather could once again be unfavourable for festivalgoers, with forecasters at MeteoGroup predicting isolated pockets of sharp, heavy showers and thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday.
However, if the showers avoid the festival site conditions are expected to be fair, with temperatures in the low to mid 20s.