Published: 26/05/2018 07:00 - Updated: 25/05/2018 13:52

Ness artwork to 'link' both banks of river

Written byNeil MacPhail


How the proposed new artwork could look when it is completed.


My Ness
Artist Tristan Surtees (second left) received generally positive feedback to the artwork plans from Inverness Angling Club members Bill Bryden, Jim Macdonald and Steve Black.

The wraps have come off the major artwork that is destined to be the centrepiece of the River Ness Public Art Project.

The new design involves both sides of the river at the Little Isle salmon pool near Ness Islands.

This latest so-called Gathering Place is entitled My Ness, and has been drawn up by the artists who designed the highly controversial previous concept which was dubbed the "tilting pier", which was earmarked for a site closer to Eden Court – it was eventually ditched in the face of huge public opposition.

The new project is less "in your face" and involves a wall starting very low at the Fisherman’s Hut beside Bught Park then rising as it sweeps round until it ends with a viewing platform over the water.

The curved wall is repeated on a smaller scale on the Island Bank Road side of the water, the aim being to form two sides of an amphitheatre, embracing the river.

Canadian artist Tristan Surtees of Sans façon art company, thought the new design would be embraced by the public.

He said: "We took a different approach this time, and I am confident it is in the right place compared with the tilting pier.

"I think the river is iconic, and this is about framing the river. I think it will help support people’s fond relationship with the river."

While the final detail has still to be completed, a group of fishermen from Inverness Angling Club seemed relaxed as they studied the computer generated images.

Club president Graham MacKenzie said: "Around the hut is already a gathering place. It attracts local and visitor alike, and often the anglers act as unofficial guides for visitors. We have been co-operating on the project."

Last autumn, the artists showed a specially commissioned film of the river at Inverness Railway Station and invited people to share their stories, views and reminiscences, said Highland Council which is backing the project.

Mr Surtees added: "The work aims to complement the river and people’s relationship to it, to frame and invite others to appreciate it.

"A thin ribbon of stone starts as an access, becoming a path to run along for a child, a bench for reading a book, a viewing point up and down the river, a back-rest for looking across it."

Professor Jim Mooney, chairman of the independent evaluation panel said: "Our members were unanimous in their enthusiastic response to the reworked proposal.

"The panel was impressed by the expansion of the site to include the opposite bank and by the elegance and innovation embodied by the new design.

"It is our settled view that the proposed structure will greatly enhance the natural beauty and flow of the Ness and will attract locals and visitors alike to explore new ways of relating to and engaging with the river."

Councillor Isabelle MacKenzie, chairwoman of the Inverness City Arts Working Group, said: "It is pleasing to see how My Ness embraces both sides of the river and I am confident that it will enhance the location and be very well received by everyone."

The River Ness Public Art Project which includes other smaller art work is funded by Creative Scotland (£305,000), Inverness Common Good Fund (£250,000), HIE (£66,000) and Highland Council (£106,000). The illustrations are not the detail design, as artists still have to do costings, engineering, and planning for the final artwork piece.

See Tuesday's Inverness Courier for more reaction to the new designs - and let us know what yout think on our Facebook page or by emailing

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