Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Concrete monstrosity or asset to the city? Design details approved for divisive Inverness public art project

Detailed designs for the controversial Gathering Place public art project have been approved Picture shows; Illustration of The Gathering Place by the River Ness, from above
Detailed designs for the controversial Gathering Place public art project have been approved Picture shows; Illustration of The Gathering Place by the River Ness, from above

Described by one critic as an ‘unwanted concrete monstrosity’, detailed designs for an Inverness art feature which has bitterly divided opinion for four years have finally been approved, with construction due to begin next year.

Members of the Inverness City Arts Working Group have approved the Sans Façon artist team’s adjusted design for the My Ness Gathering Place project, a curved wall set at the Fisherman’s Hut section of the River Ness as it runs through the city.

The £340,000 wall replaces the original design for what became known as the tilting pier, scrapped in 2016 due to a public outcry.

ICArts Working Group chairwoman councillor Isabelle MacKenzie said the piece will be unique and an asset, while councillor Andrew Jarvie called it an ‘unwanted concrete monstrosity, vanity project and waste of tax payer’s money’.

He said: “Donald Trump may be out of office, but Invernessians have still got their wall.

“It’s a ludicrous waste of public money, especially when the nearby Infirmary Bridge which people are crying out to be fixed, has received zero money.”

Community group OpenNess has been challenging Highland Council’s decision-making processes behind the project for the past two years.

Spokeswoman Helen Smith said the group was very disappointed that the council is persisting with the project ‘despite so much opposition on so many grounds’.

She said: “Money from Highland Council, the Inverness Common Good fund and HIE is being spent on this which could be spent instead on measures to support the many families in Inverness who are facing unemployment and uncertainty, or even put towards the costs of keeping the Infirmary Bridge open.

“On one hand, the council is scrabbling about to find money to avoid having to close this iconic and essential bridge while on the other hand it is throwing public money at building an uninspiring, unnecessary and unwanted concrete ‘piece of art’  a few hundred yards away.”

The group welcomed tweaks in the final design which take into account some of their concerns.

These include rest stops, widening the end of the pier to accommodate a turning circle for wheelchair users and signage which points out the wall is closed during high water events.

Councillor MacKenzie said the piece was intergenerational, where everyone could come together to pause and reflect.

She said: “The project will be unique. I believe that with the artist and designer’s international status that this is an asset to any city.”

Another vocal critic of the project, councillor Ron MacWilliam called it ‘one of the most unimaginative public art commissions of all time’.

He said: “It’s a wall.

“This is one of the most iconic vantage points on the River Ness and it is an act of outrageous environmental vandalism to develop it with concrete and steel.

“Equally offensive is the lost opportunity.

“A budget of that sum could have been used to create something worthy of celebration and to promote the city’s place in the world of art.”

Inverness provost, councillor Helen Carmichael said: “The artists have listened very carefully to all the views.

“We appreciate the time and effort the designers have put into the detail design, without losing the originality of the piece.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]