Progress made on River Ness public art programme

Progress on a public art project along the banks of the River Ness within the centre of Inerness City has been welcomed by Members of The Highland Council’s City of Inverness Area Committee.  

Members were informed that 8 artists are being invited to – Limited Design Competition this month – which is the next stage of a procurement process being carried out by the Council’s ICArts Working Group with scrutiny by an evaluation panel made up of independent advisors and officers of The Highland Council and High Life Highland.  

The design competition is for 3 out of 5 elements of the “River Ness River Connections” – public art project programme. These elements include the creation of:

  • the largest commission “The Gathering Place” a special structure where people can come together overlooking the River Ness; 
  • relaxation areas or “Rest Spaces” for small groups or individuals along the river banks; and 
  • an interactive “Sculptural Destination” which is visible from a distance creating a focal point to encourage people to walk along the river.

An update on progress being made by Artist and Stonecarver Mary Bourne on the “River Connections” project and her work with Poet Ken Cockburn; the Highland Print Studio; and community engagement was also given to Members.  

Approval for the release of Inverness Common Good funding of £190,000 to The Highland Council’s ICArts Working Group has also been given by Members of the Council’s City of Inverness Area Committee.  

The funds will be used to take the public art programme for the City to the second stage of an application for funding of £305,000 to Creative Scotland.  

The total budget for the arts project which is related to the River Ness Flood Works is £717,000 with funding also allocated from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).  

Councillor Ken Gowans, Chairman of the ICArts Working Group said: “I am delighted that we are making progress on the procurement of three more arts projects for River Ness River Connections which will have an iconic impact on the landscape of our city centre. 

“These artworks represent a new confidence in Inverness as one Scotland’s seven cities and it is extremely important that the chosen artists will consult widely with the community to inform their artworks. The ICArts Working Group has worked hard to ensure that we have robust project management with secure goverance, accountability and transparency in place to deliver the highest quality artworks as a lasting legacy for the City.  

He added: “I would like to thank the evaluation panel: Dr Ken Neil, Acting Head of Research at Glasgow School of Art; Dr James Mooney former Tutor of Painting at the Royal College of Art; Mark Lomax, Lecturer in Fine Art at Inverness College and Colin Howell, Highland Council’s Acting Head of Infrastructure for their work in scrutinising the artists’ tenders and I look forward to their recommend outcomes of the next phase of the Limited Design competition.”  

“To ensure that people have ownership of the projects and that they reflect their aspirations - we have asked artists to bring forward broad concepts as a significant part of the process of community engagement with Ward meetings, Community Councils, special interest groups and schools from up and down the river among others.”  

“We will also be working with schools and colleges so that the project can feed into their curriculum and provide as many training opportunities as possible. The entire ethos of the ICArts Groups has to date focussed on consultation, inclusion and openness. Everyone will have the opportunity to engage with the process whether it is at public meetings, through councillors or simply talking with the artists as they meet them on the river. We do not simply want Art that is public – we want Public Art – of which there is a big difference.”

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3 Jun 2014
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