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New exhibition celebrates one of Highlands’ most popular landmarks

Lesley Banks
Lesley Banks

The majesty of the Caledonian Canal is featured in an unusual exhibition starting this week.

The 60-mile long waterway connecting Inverness with Corpach in Lochaber has been captured on canvas by Lesley Banks who is Scotland’s first ever canal artist-in-residence.

Ms Banks spent 15 months travelling round the country’s canals in all weathers creating paintings which celebrate the different environments and stories surrounding Scotland’s 250 year-old waterways.

Clachnaharry

Now she is inviting people to go ‘gongoozling’ and see the first exhibition of her work which opens on Saturday at the Park Gallery in Falkirk.

‘Gongoozlers’ are people who love watching boats – and the world – pass by on canals and they will be spoilt for choice at the event as Ms Banks has travelled the length of the Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Crinan and Caledonian canals for her art.

She said: “From the water to the banks and beyond, Scotland’s canals are unique environments with over two centuries of stories to tell and I feel very lucky to be Scottish Canals’ first artist-in-residence.

‘I’ve spent the past year gongoozling, using the towpaths as a studio and capturing some incredible sights on the waterways throughout changing seasons, weather and times of day.

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“The Gongoozler exhibition celebrates the unique character of each canal, from the majestic Caledonian to the post-industrial Forth & Clyde, in a sequential form that will allow people to explore the waterways on canvas as if they were walking the towpath with me.”

Richard Millar, Director of Infrastructure at Scottish Canals, added: “From Neptune’s Staircase to The Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies, Scotland’s canals have been associated with innovative art and engineering for more than 200 years.

“This project has helped celebrate that rich heritage and the vital role the waterways play in the communities that line their banks by committing their iconic sights and stories to canvas – many for the first time.

“We’re delighted with the results of the residency and hope that seeing the incredible scenery of Scotland’s canals during the exhibition will encourage even more to people to explore the waterways by boot, boat and bike and experience them in person.”

The residency, funded by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland Open Project Funding and supported by Falkirk Community Trust and Scottish Canals, has resulted in Ms Banks creating more than 40 paintings of the different waterways.

They can all be seen at the exhibition which runs until June 25.

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