A “blank canvas” has been promised as a group of artists begin work to design a replacement for the controversial “tilting pier” project.
The companies Sans facon and OSA were yesterday unveiled as partners in designing a new public artwork inspired by the River Ness.
The collaboration’s previous effort to create a work – officially titled the Gathering Place – was dropped in July last year after a public backlash against the design.
The proposal – a viewing platform over the river – became known as the “tilting pier” because of its design.
But yesterday at the official relaunch of the Gathering Place, the artists insisted they were starting from scratch – and said they will take public views into account when creating the design.
Karsten Huneck of OSA said that the backlash against the project would help them move on for the new proposal.
He said: “To be honest it is the nature of projects. You have to learn lessons and then you improve.
“That is why we are back here.”
He added: “We are super positive and enthusiastic.
“That is part of the research. The last bit is almost part of the research now and we know what we learnt and we can take all of that into the next step.
“That’s what we are here for today and for the next stops.
“Even at the next steps at the workshop we still will not have any proposal there because we listen again and then we will take it to the next level and eventually there will be something here.
“We don’t know what it is, there is nothing in our minds just now.”
The project is the largest individual element of of a wider £760,000 riverside arts initiative.
A total of £240,000 has been set aside to fund the project, with the bulk of that money being pledged by Creative Scotland.
The artists have been briefed to create something that reconnects the city to the river by creating some form of civic space.
Tristan Surtees of Glasgow-based Sans facon said that aside from fishermen, people are “not as directly in contact” with the river as they once were.
He said: “The Gathering Place project is an occasion to expand and express the qualities of the River Ness for both locals and visitors, developing a collaborative and engaging artwork shaped with and in response to the passion people feel for their river.”
The artists were reappointed following a selection process, led by an evaluation panel led by Professor Jim Mooney.
He said the artists were appointed on “track record” rather their ideas for the Gathering Place.
He added: “Public art has a long history of stirring controversy; however, one of the key demands of art is to provoke thought and debate, as much as it is to stimulate the enjoyment of the senses and aesthetically enhance our lives.”
Newly reappointed city provost Helen Carmichael promised a “fresh start” to the project as she introduced the artists yesterday.
She said: “I would like to make a new day, a new start.
“There’s no preconceived ideas. I think it sounds exciting.”
Councillor Ken Gowans, who resigned as chairman of the Inverness City Arts working group amid anger over the “Tilting Pier”, welcomed the project starting again.
He said: “I think we should be encouraged, I think lessons have been learned from the last time and I think everyone wants this to be a success.
“There is going to be a piece of artwork on the river. Obviously we don’t know what it is going to be, there will be extensive consultation.
“But I think people should get behind it and lets try and make it a real success.”
Former councillor Thomas Prag, who was involved with the ICArts group also backed the idea – saying the Tilting Pier had been “misunderstood”.
He said: “The kind of thing these guys are talking about and the experience they have and the fantastic things they have done elsewhere. We’re going to have a chance to get involved in that and it is going to be a real privilege.”