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Artist hopes for brush with success with former RBS bank in the Highlands

Invergordon RBS which is now an art gallery.
Invergordon RBS which is now an art gallery.

A discarded bank on a Highland high street has been given a new lease of life, as an art gallery.

The historic building in Invergordon, Ross-shire, has been empty for three years since banking giants RBS sparked controversy by closing branches across the north in 2015.

But now, with tourism on the rise and the cruise ship market growing in the seaport, local artist Michael Ross has decided to help rejuvenate the town centre.

Michael Ross.

The 35-year-old said: “I’m from Invergordon, I went to school here and have decided to become a full-time artist working from one of the bank rooms as my studio and converting the rest into a gallery and shop space selling my own works.

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“I didn’t want to see the bank lying empty, especially as it was such a loss to the town losing its banking.

“I opened in the summer and got a great response from the incoming tourists on the ships and from locals.”

Mr Ross produces his paintings, cards and prints locally and sells them across the globe.

The Grays School of Art graduate works mainly in oils and produces studies of sunsets, landscapes and seascapes, along with colourful expressions of poppies.

More recently, he has started working in watercolours, focusing on quirky Highland cows in different scenes – usually juxtaposed with hens and pheasants.

The new converted building.

Invergordon councillor Maxine Smith, leader of the SNP Group in the Highlands, said: “The former RBS was lying empty for some time, so it’s good to see someone new bringing a business to the town.

“I think we’ll see more places aimed at our growing tourism market appearing locally.

“We’ve had two art venues opening this year and we have got a few new gift shops too.

“The cruise market throws up many opportunities as well as the North Coast 500. I wish Michael well in his new venture.”

An estimated total of 170,000 passengers on around 90 cruise ships brought a £17million boost to the Highland economy, according to the port authority.

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