A world where even cynics can believe pigs will dye.

Peter Evans profiles David Annand, a sculptor whose work represents a beguiling translation of life into art

IF you round the corner to the cottage where sculptor David Annand lives in the sleepy Fife hamlet of Kilmany, the pig in the front garden takes you completely by surprise. It's not real, and it's the wrong colour in any case, but you do a double-take nevertheless.

The bronze resin porker is typical of Annand's work. There's an inherent vitality which imbues it with a sense of reality. It's the face that does it - the animal equivalent of a Mona Lisa, enigmatic smile.

The friendly pig is a manifestation of Annand's desire to translate life into art. You are given the feeling, right away, that this beast is easy to get on with. It beckons you closer and doesn't repel. Its award-winning creator, a native of Insch, Aberdeenshire, is principally a public artist, and much of his work is on public display in Scotland and around the world.

A former Dundee College of Art student who taught art for 14 years at St Senior's High School in the city, Annand's philosophy of art and its purpose draws inspiration from Scots poet William Soutar.

``Until the interest of an artist shifts from the personal sensation to a sense of communal service, his work cannot grow. As pure artist his work may be technically more perfect in the exploitation of the ego - but it cannot take on real greatness until it bears the burden of people,'' wrote Soutar, in 1932.

``I learned a lot from his poems and writing when I researched his work for a sculpture in Perth,'' says Annand. ``His insight into what ought to be the principles of public art was way ahead of its time. Why should it be any different in the nineties compared to the thirties?''

The sculpture referred to could hardly be a more striking example of public art, positioned as it is right in the middle of the shopping centre in Perth High Street. Called Nae Day Sae Dark, based on one of Soutar's poems, it comprises a huge metal ring with two life-size figures inside.

Shoppers lean on the ring, children are lifted up to stroke the faces of the figures - there is an interactive relationship, a symbiosis, a union between the inert and the living. It is exactly what Annand seeks to achieve and very much, in Soutar's words, ``bears the burden of people''.

Creating public art has its drawbacks. Helping to erect a recently finished work of a miner and a steelworker in a shopping centre in Wrexham, north Wales, Annand was approached by a woman shaking with rage, complaining about money being spent on a sculpture when her daughter's school roof was leaking.

``I could only sympathise,'' says Annand. ``Money is allocated for different purposes and when something essential is badly served, for whatever reason, then a large, visible extravagance like my sculpture takes the flak.''

Another piece, Helter Skelter, commissioned by Lancashire County Council and erected on a roundabout on the outskirts of Blackpool last year, generated vitriolic opposition.

The #20,000, 20ft high stainless-steel sculpture depicts three figures careering down a twisting tubular spiral. ``The emphasis is on fun, which is probably the main reason why people go to Blackpool,'' says Annand.

``I also wanted to focus on the family aspect, which I tried to do using the figures of a man, a girl, and a boy on the helter skelter.''

The local paper, however, claimed to have been inundated with telephone calls from the public condemning the work as ``ugly and a waste of money''.

Although used to such criticism, Annand is uneasy about it and feels that he, and other artists in a similar position, have a duty to carry public opinion with them. ``Public art is a tiny part of a public works project and it should deal with the spiritual aspect of a site's refurbishment. It has a duty to excite, interest, amuse, involve, inspire, or uplift,'' he says.

``It is very important that my work should remain accessible to everyone - realistic human or animal subjects, observed and modelled with discipline, set in a slightly incongruous composition, preferably using the site as a plinth.''

He has a great respect for the bravery of his commissioners, knowing that criticism is always a possibility. ``When you work with people who have no art training but who want to have a piece of sculpture, I am constantly amazed at their courage and vision in simply coming forward and asking.

``I have to honour this and work with them so they get the sculpture they are happy with, that is carrying them forward in art terms. Commissioners like this are an avant-garde in their own right; they have to go to council or committee to justify the expenditure; they are taking a risk. ``I can giggle all the way home on the train with a cheque in my hand, while they are left to face the voters and the taxpayers. I want them to be able to do so with pride and confidence that they have made a good decision.

``To the journalists of Blackpool, who slagged my work even before it was started, I say go home and swipe your mantelpiece clean and say that's the way you prefer it. Only connect.''

Annand was amused by the comments of Julian Spalding, head of Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art, firing off about the art establishment's ``emperor's new clothes'' in relation to the supposed comprehension of meaning in abstract modern art.

``I admire his courage, but I hope he doesn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is a lot of skill and talent around. There must be room for creative advancement, and this implies risk.

``I take risks with structures and designs but they are carefully checked by engineers to see if they are feasible. The sculpture has to stand up to severe treatment from vandalism - it's the number one colour on the palette before you even start. Porcelain would look beautiful in a public place but it's just not practical.''

Annand's basic medium is clay, which he moulds to give life and expression to his sculptures. Wherever possible, they are then cast in bronze through a good working relationship with the Powderhall Bronze Foundry in Edinburgh. Other mediums used are steel, as in Helter Skelter, and white resin, as in a group of flying swans, outside the General Accident insurance company building at Dundee Technology Park.

As for the Blackpool journalists, he has had the last laugh, having now been commissioned to do another work for the area.