Iconic sculptures of young boys playing in high heels found by railway tracks after being stolen

A photo shows the Gorbals Boys artwork piece in Glasgow. There are three statues showing three boys in different positions wearing women's shoes

Two iconic bronze sculptures of boys playing in high heels have been found, just 24 hours after they were reported stolen from a Glasgow street. 

The Gorbals Boys, created by local resident Liz Peden, is a £40,000 bronze and chrome artwork piece that portrays three little boys playing in their mother’s heels. 

The public sculpture was based on an iconic photograph taken by Italian-Scottish photographer Oscar Marzaroli in 1963 in the Gorbals area of the city and was unveiled by then-deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon in 2008.

On Monday (6 February), several Scottish news publications reported that two of the three sculptures had been stolen from their home in the Gorbals’ Queen Elizabeth Gardens, outside the St Francis Community Centre.

Photographs shared on social media by The National show that two of the sculptures had been sawn off at the legs. 

Scottish police immediately launched an investigation into the theft but on Tuesday (7 February) the missing sculptures were found abandoned by railway tracks.

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Sargent Gary Bone of Gorbals Police Station confirmed to the BBC that the sculptures were found in the Queens Park area of the city.

The theft came to light following an anti-trans rally in the city the previous day (5 February).

The demonstration was led by anti-trans activist Kellie-Jay Keen, also known as Posie Parker, and was part of her Let Women Speak event tour.

Parker’s rally was met with a counterprotest that used music and dance to drown out the transphobic rally. 

The counterprotest included a reading of a Jewish prayer as Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf was quoted at a Let Women Speak rally in Newcastle last month, a poetry reading and speech by The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a performance by a trans country artist and disability activist plus a group rendition of the Industrial Workers of the World solidarity song.

Glaswegians ‘quite fond’ of the Gorbals Boys

Speaking with The Herald after the theft, Gorbals resident Anthony ÓDoibhailein said: “It looks like one of them looks like it’s been fairly cleanly cut off at the ankles, the other looks like one of the ankles has presented a problem because it’s got a steel rod through it. 

“It looks like they’ve had to manipulate it off so it must have been a wee bit harder work than they anticipated. 

“At that point, I imagine they made too much noise and somebody must have seen something, somebody must have heard something because they never took the third one.”

ÓDoibhailein described people in the area as fond of the artwork, as it represents Glasgow’s past. 

“It’s a wee bit of a connection back to the more recent history, the tenement lifestyle, the innocence of youth. I think people are quite fond of them. They’ve become a wee bit of a marker for people.

“The fact that they’ve not been abused by anyone – until they were stolen just now – I think people see them as being part of the area,” ÓDoibhailein explained.

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