A major new artwork has been unveiled to the public along the banks of the River Ness in the heart of Inverness.
The Gathering Place, opened on Thursday, October 7, was co-created by the collaborative team of Sans facon and KHBT.
The artists were tasked with helping the people of Inverness reconnect with the river that flows through the city’s heart.
It replaced the controversial Tilting Pier design, which was met with overwhelming opposition from Inverness residents.
However, the new design has also prompted concerns and mixed opinions of its own.
Hopes artwork will celebrate character of area
It is hoped the new artwork will also allow people to access the river and promote the social aspect the river plays among the city’s residents.
It provides an opportunity for people to celebrate the distinct character, purpose and history of the River Ness.
The main focus of The Gathering Place is the Clashach Stone which encircles a portion of the river and its bank.
The stone juts out into the fast-flowing river allowing for unique views towards the city centre and the looming facade of Inverness Castle.
Tristan Surtees, of Sans facon, said: “The work in many ways is a monument to the social and natural heritage of the river, so important to keep and protect.
“It is a space to celebrate the sense of place, to interact, to enjoy the theatre of the river and to perhaps see the familiar anew.”
‘People will be able to come together to pause and reflect on joy of interaction’
The artwork itself is understated by design as the team tasked with creating it wanted the river to still dominate the space while the Clashach Stone worked as an enhancement.
It is part of the River Connections Public Art Programme with multiple artworks commissioned by Highland Council’s ICArts Working Group with £758,350 of funding support from the local council and business groups.
However the artwork that has just been unveiled is a redesign after the original idea failed to garner favour with the residents of Inverness.
The original design was known as the Tilting Pier, because it would tilt out over the river as a viewing platform near the Eden Court theatre.
Nearly 60% of residents who participated in the public consultation disapproved of the project.
The idea was subsequently scrapped in 2016 after the Highland Council bowed to public pressure.
Provost Helen Carmichael, said: “The Gathering Place provides hope for the future as we continue through a recovery from the pandemic.
“People are once again able to meet up, interact and start to feel more of a sense of normality returning to their lives.
“It’s been great to see the artists listened to the range of views and delivered a piece which built on people’s stories and memories of the river.”
“I hope that it will not just be an asset to our city, but a place where people will be able to come together to pause and reflect on the joy of human interaction within the amphitheatre of the river.”