River Connections public art project gets under way

Councillor Ken Gowans, Chair, The Highland Council’s Inverness City Arts Group, is delighted to announce the award of the first commission for the River Connections public art project in Inverness. Focused on the banks of the River Ness in the centre of the city, the £60,000 commission will be delivered by Moray visual artist Mary Bourne.

River Connections, which is also the name of the first commission, is aimed at enhancing the streetscape along the banks of the River Ness, complementing the works of the River Ness Flood Alleviation Project. 

Councillor Gowans said: “The Council received a good number of interesting responses to the brief, the first of several art projects along the River Ness. It was agreed the commission be awarded to Mary Bourne following the recommendation of an advisory panel of independent experts, and this process will be followed for all of the commissions going forward.

“Ms Bourne is a very accomplished artist who is highly regarded both academically and as a practitioner. She is very experienced, having produced a significant number of excellent public art works in the past.  A key element of the project will be her engagement with the community to identify influences to inform the project and ensure the public's views are reflected in the finished work. During the process she will also be working closely with the flood team to ensure integration with the construction project.”

He added: “The river runs through the heart of Inverness and this first commission, along with the other projects, affords a unique opportunity to begin to really develop Inverness as an important cultural centre that reflects a new self-confidence felt throughout the City of Inverness and the wider Highlands making their mark in a confident Scotland and beyond.”

The first commission is part of the £750,000 River Connections public art project.

Councillor Gowans thanked Creative Scotland for their advice and financial support for the project.  “It is good that the project has attracted funding from a national organisation. We greatly value their support and advice.”

Other projects to follow include: The Gathering Place; The Sculptural Destination; The Trail and Riverside Rest Places.  The briefs for these projects have been agreed and they will be advertised together in the near future.

Mary Bourne works principally in natural stone, using a variety of techniques (carving, sandblasting, heat and polishing) to find subtle physical forms for poetic ideas.

She has undertaken numerous site-specific commissions for public places and exhibited widely at home and abroad, winning a number of awards and prizes.  She has also consulted on several public art projects as well as serving on a variety of boards and committees for visual art organisations.

She said: ”I am very excited to be involved with this project.  Rivers are of central importance to the communities which spring up along their banks – in many cases the community is where it is specifically because of that river.  It will be fascinating to be working along the River Ness with the people who live there today, looking at what the river means to them, as well as what it has meant in the past, and may mean in the future.  We live in a constantly changing world, and in the River, perpetually flowing and changing, we can see a reflection of our own lives.”

7 Nov 2013
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