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WATCH: Highland Council reacts to Ness fishermen’s doggie sculpture protest against the Gathering Place artwork by warning of Inverness committee scrutiny after summer recess.


By Alasdair Fraser

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The new art installation in front of The Gathering Place. Picture: James Mackenzie.
The new art installation in front of The Gathering Place. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Highland councillors will decide whether a wooden doggie sculpture installed “as real art” beside a controversial public artwork walkway in Inverness is allowed to remain.

River Ness fishermen, horrified at how the “eyesore” Gathering Place project has blighted their century-old angling beat, took it upon themselves to cement a chain-sawed Labrador figure by the structure’s curved wall on Wednesday.

No permission was sought, with Inverness Angling Club vice-president Steve Watt calling it “the nicest possible protest” to “brighten the place up”.

Claiming he wants to show the local authority what real art is, Mr Watt says members of the public, community police and even council employees have so far stopped to say how much they like the treated larch statue.

Inverness Angling Club with the new art installation. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Inverness Angling Club with the new art installation. Picture: James Mackenzie.

But the unauthorised addition to the Gathering Place, part of the £790,000-plus Ness River art project, could yet go “walkies” when Highland councillors return from summer recess next month.

A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “The council was not aware of the activity by Inverness Angling Club to install a sculpture.

RELATED STORY: Highland Council face new Gathering Place 'artwork' criticism after fencing off part of a city beauty spot during peak of tourist season

“Any consideration of the sculpture and its siting at this location would be a matter for members of the city of Inverness and area committee to consider and the council is currently in recess.

“Ownership and responsibility for the sculpture is entirely a matter for the club.”

Mixing the cement for the base. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Mixing the cement for the base. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Mr Watt and fellow angling club members have no intention of allowing the canine creation to be removed.

He said: “We’ve had no contact at all from the council. Nobody has said we should remove it and we’re not going to take it out either.

“It is very well cemented in.

“They can do whatever they want, but there will be an outcry if they try to take it away because it has been much admired.

The dog carving in front of The Little Isle fishing shed. Picture: James Mackenzie.
The dog carving in front of The Little Isle fishing shed. Picture: James Mackenzie.

“The community bobbies were just down looking at it and everyone seems to like it.

“We’ve had lots of folk stopping to say how nice it is.”

The Gathering Place 19 July 2022. Picture: James Mackenzie.
The Gathering Place 19 July 2022. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Meanwhile, the council is set to remove red plastic barricades from part of the My Ness Gathering Place site this weekend.

The council drew fresh criticism for cordoning off reseeded grass, in an area eroded by footfall.

The council spokeswoman said: “Our contractor has advised that temporary fencing will be removed by Saturday.

“Public access has been maintained to the riverside and the Gathering Place during the turf laying works.”


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