I’m told it costs more to get the train to Dundee to see the outstanding new ‘V & A’ than to fly to some European cities of culture. Fortunately Dorothy & I could drive to the former capital of jute, jam & journalism, crucible for comic characters like Oor Wullie & Desperate Dan, home of The Beano & Sunday Post, and present hub for computer games.

We loved visiting friends & being shown around the V & A (Victoria & Albert) museum of design, Kuma’s £80m creation, which reflects rugged Arbroath cliffs. This merging of pyramid & ship shapes isn’t a ‘concrete carpark thrown from outer space’! I love its quirkiness and innumerable angles for viewing its River Tay surrounds. Unfortunately, night lighting isn’t in place to show off this new Scottish icon from miles around, but inside these layered logs of concrete & wood lies a kaleidoscopic cathedral cavern.

The ‘Ocean Liners: Speed & Style’ showcase exhibition is pure nostalgia. The largest remaining wreckage of the fateful Titanic, on show for the first time in Europe, is next to a bizarre Coney Island poster advertising daily dramatic re-enactments of the ship going down. The race to build the fastest & most luxurious liners smacks of a world beyond most, yet today these sailing cities are the rage & accessible to many more.

 

I was reminded of our own Irvine treasure ‘The Scottish Maritime Museum’, a historical jewel which wonderfully compliments our quaint & scenic Irvine: Harbourside. Government investment will hopefully allow us to make more of this asset, but oh, what could’ve been if the millennium’s ‘Big Idea’ had worked. Alas, this celebration of Scottish invention & Alfred Nobel’s explosive legacy, couldn’t ‘re-invent itself’ & its unusual half eye-shaped building remains an empty shell, its retractable bridge no longer in use.

But hey, churches know all about redundant hollow building shells! Vibe is that the V & A is here to stay, a Dundee flagship & icon to inspire creativity, culture & confidence in Dundee’s growing positive identity. Another architectural project, ‘The Wall of Answered Prayer’, is to be a massive national landmark sculpture of hope, built in the heart of the UK about Jesus (work starts 2020). Made of a million bricks, each one represents an answered prayer.

The aims: 1. Preserve Christian Heritage of our nation:Orchestrator Rich Gamble writes, “God has faithfully and powerfully moved throughout the history of the UK, whether by answering the prayers of St Augustine in the 6th Century, to the millions of people who queued up outside churches to pray for the men on the beaches of Dunkirk. We want to celebrate and remember all the prayers God has answered throughout our nation’s history.”2. Ignite faith for national prayer. Imagine access to a database of a million answered prayers. Type in a storm or situation of life, and you can see first-hand the God who’s done it before, and can to do it again. 3.Reveal Christ to the nation: Over 140,000 people will drive past this monument daily, and many visit it annually. As people engage with the answered prayers hopefully many will personally encounter the God who answers.

There’s dubiety over the derivation of ‘Dundee’: ‘Fortress of Fire’ or Dei Donum ‘Gift from God’? Whatever, the ‘V & A’ is worth visiting & ‘Prayer’ is a fire & gift worth using, as St Paul said,“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (Ephesians 3:20 / MSG)