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Eastgate Centre in Inverness has opened a novel community art enterprise with artist Louise Innes

By Neil MacPhail

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Artist-in-residence Louise Innes outside the Eastgate art hub.
Artist-in-residence Louise Innes outside the Eastgate art hub.

INVERNESS’s Eastgate Shopping Centre suffered a blow with the closure of the Debenhams department store, and Covid has not helped footfall.

But it is bouncing back, and the opening of an airy new community art gallery and creative hub has been welcomed as an omen of a bright future.

Louise Innes, a contemporary artist, has set up in the former Argos shop beside Next under the name One of a Kind, with the help of centre management,

The community studio will showcase bespoke artworks and items made by Mrs Innes as well as other local artists and makers.

The artist-in-residence has created a working studio which will have a small retail area and dedicated public gallery.

Early guests to the gallery with their highly creative and thought-provoking artwork were Inverness College UHI students, getting the venture off to a bright start.

Mrs Innes said: “It is so difficult for local artists to exhibit, share and sell their work in this area, so part of the unit will be shared with many amazing local artists.

“The gallery space will give them an opportunity to exhibit and sell their superb artworks.

“It will also give the public an ever-changing art gallery to come and visit in the Eastgate Centre.

“I have also signed up some local schools and community groups to use the space to promote their artwork and to learn about how to apply to an art gallery to exhibit, how to choose their work, and to learn the skills of putting on an exhibition and promoting it.”

She added: “I couldn’t have achieved my dream of opening a studio for myself and local artists without the continued encouragement and support from Jackie Cuddy, Eastgate Centre manager, and her team who have always supported me in my many ventures over the years.”

Ms Cuddy said: “We are delighted to have this gallery space for people to enjoy, discover and explore the arts.

“I am very aware of the wealth of artists in the Highlands and Islands, and it has taken a while to bring the idea to fruition, but Eastgate is an ideal and logical place to showcase these talents.

“Eastgate has a very good relationship with Louise, which started with her doing face painting in the malls for us.

“There was no doubt that it was a great fit for her to head the initial eight-month project and to provide this showcase opportunity for not only herself, but also for all other local artists.”

The art hub in the Eastgate is currently open on Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10am-5pm.

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