The Highlands is being urged to replicate the success of the Kelpies and the Angel of the North by commissioning its own giant artwork.
A site near the A9 road or the new West Link route in Inverness have been hailed as “ideal” for the region’s proposed new tourist attraction.
And early suggestions have included creating a huge sculpture of a wild red deer stag and hind – or even the Loch Ness Monster.
The idea for Inverness has been tabled as plans to create an artwork by the Aberdeen bypass gather pace, taking inspiration from the famous Kelpies at Falkirk and the Angel of the North near Gateshead.
Work began earlier this year on the West Link scheme in Inverness – which by 2020 will link the A82 Fort William road to the A9 Perth road and A96 to Aberdeen, via the southern distributor.
Stewart Nicol, chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce, said the project provided an opportunity for a new public artwork to be commissioned – and suggested that Nessie might even be considered.
He said: “I’ve always thought that we should have something and I think it’s something for the West Link road and canal.
“That would be the ideal place – the gateway to the Great Glen. It could even be one of Nessie. That’s certainly where I would put it, or Drummossie Brae.”
He added: “I grew up in Falkirk so I know what the Falkirk Wheel did, and the Kelpies did, for regeneration there.
“It is not everybody’s cup of tea, I do recognise that. But it can be a tourist attraction in itself. I think it’s definitely something that is needed and I would welcome it.”
The Press and Journal revealed proposals this week to build a giant Aberdeen Angus bull in the north-east as part of plans for a “major” artwork at the side of the Granite City’s western peripheral route.
Previous proposals for a public artwork near the A9 entrance to Inverness have still to progress, while a smaller-scale plan for a so-called “Tilting Pier” at the River Ness was dumped this year after proving unpopular and controversial.
Inverness MP Drew Hendry said: “The Kelpies have been really successful. Of course we should always look at opportunities for public art.
“It has to be a scheme that’s suitable for Inverness.
“We should always consider looking at these kinds of things, particularly given the fact that Inverness and the surrounding areas are iconic in their own right.
“But it should be something that fits in with both the local environment and the public.”
Highland historian and author Iain Thornber believes there should be an artwork of a wild red deer stag and hind above the A9.
“So many people come to the Highlands and love the sight of a red deer. I’ve met a lot of people who are so excited and think we are so lucky to have them,” he said.
“An appropriate location up on the A9 would be best. I just think it’s like the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge, it was put there because of the wilderness setting.
“It would break up the drive and stop people speeding.”
Sir Antony Gormley’s £800,000 Angel of the North, unveiled in 1998 and funded mainly by the National Lottery, has become one of the most talked about pieces of public art ever produced.
Rising 65ft above the ground near the A1 London-Edinburgh road at Gateshead, it is seen by more than 150,000 visitors a year and 90,000 drivers every day.
Meanwhile, the 100ft horse head Kelpies, designed by sculptor Andy Scott, have attracted more than a million visitors since they were completed in October 2013.