February 16, 2023

Scotland’s First ‘Storytelling Statue’ Will Bring Aberdonian Nobel Laureate J.J.R. Macleod to Life

A life-size bronze statue of John J.R. Macleod, the renowned Aberdeen physiologist who co-discovered insulin in 1922, will become Scotland’s first ‘Storytelling Statue’ with the help of an innovative software application.


Ayrshire sculptor John McKenna is currently at work on the statue, which is due to be unveiled in Aberdeen’s Duthie Park in Autumn 2023, marking the 100-year anniversary of Professor Macleod’s Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology. Visitors to the Macleod Memorial can scan a QR code, triggering the app to ‘call’ their mobile and play a brief recording of an actor’s voice speaking as the statue.

“There are dozens of other statues featuring this technology around the world, including several in England,” says John Otto, Founder & Chairman of the JJR Macleod Memorial Statue Society, a community organisation in Aberdeen raising funds for the project. “It means a great deal to us that Macleod’s statue will be the first to showcase this interactive feature north of the border.”

Aberdeen-based author and screenwriter Kimberlie Hamilton wrote John Macleod’s monologue, which has already been recorded by acclaimed Scottish stage, television and film actor David Rintoul (Game of Thrones, The Crown, Dr Finlay), a native of Aberdeen.

Acclaimed Scottish actor and Aberdeen native David Rintoul provided the voice of Professor John Macleod’s memorial statue.

“Having a statue that tells its own story is a playful and memorable way to engage with history”, says Mr Otto. “The app will also feature a short video about Macleod’s scientific legacy and the actual making of the statue, which will be another way to access the inspiring and largely unknown tale of this humble medical hero”.

In the words of actor David Rintoul, “‘I am delighted to be a part of the JJR Macleod Memorial project and to lend the statue a voice delivered in a genuine Aberdeen accent. Like Macleod, both my father and my uncle were University of Aberdeen medical graduates, so having this opportunity to tell the Professor’s story feels especially personal and meaningful.”

Macleod’s ‘Storytelling Statue’ production is a collaboration with the Talking Statues Association, which was founded by Danish app developer David Peter Fox and has produced similar projects around the globe since 2013. In addition to London and Manchester, the app has been introduced in a number of other cities, including New York City, Helsinki, Parma, Dublin, Berlin and Copenhagen.

“This ingenious app provides a ‘voice’ for statues depicting folks like Abe Lincoln, Hans Christian Andersen, Joan of Arc and William Shakespeare, just to name a few,” says John Otto. “The fact that John Macleod will soon be telling his own story and joining such an esteemed pantheon of historical figures, I’d say that pretty much speaks for itself.”

For more about the Talking Statues Association, visit www.talkingstatues.com