Plans to create a new artistic work by the River Ness are well underway.
The planning application for My Ness, the centrepiece of the River Ness Public Art project, is to be submitted in December.
If approved, the artwork is scheduled for installation in the spring of 2019.
Artists Sans façon and OSA received very positive feedback when they unveiled their concept for ‘the Gathering Place,’ in May this year. The artwork, entitled My Ness, will be sited at the Little Isle Pool, Fisherman’s Car Park, and will provide a focal point for people to gather, linger and enjoy an area of great natural beauty in the centre of the city.
It will reference circular amphitheatre, with elements on both banks to ‘frame’ the river, incorporating an elegant walkway, seating area and viewing point projecting over the water between the existing trees.
The design has been developed through extensive consultation with those who know, use and love the river. Last autumn, the artists set up a large screen in Inverness Railway Station to show a specially commissioned film of the river and invited people to come and share their stories, views and reminiscences. Consultation included an invitation for online submissions.
From this it became clear that the natural beauty of the river and the anglers who animate it – a special feature in a city centre – had to take centre stage. The anglers’ close relationship with the river helped the artists to understand its changing character and to create a design that would facilitate others connecting more closely with it.
Tristan Surtees of Sans façon launched the new design to an invited audience of stakeholders in May ahead of the detailed planning and design process.
He said: ‘The work aims to complement the river and people’s relationship to it, to frame and invite others to appreciate it.
‘A thin ribbon of stone frames the Ness, starting as an access, becoming a path to run along for a child, a bench for reading a book, a viewing point up and down the river, a back-rest for looking across it. In its upstream portion it weaves through the trees and bushes to offer a unique view up the river or back to the Castle and Cathedral.’
Professor Jim Mooney, chair of the independent Evaluation Panel said: ‘The Evaluation panel is delighted to recommend and support the latest proposal by design team Sans façon and OSA. This iteration represents a significant refinement and development of an earlier proposal.
‘Following a presentation to the Evaluation Panel members and observers from Creative Scotland, the design team was encouraged to further refine the proposal. The Evaluation Panel members were unanimous in their enthusiastic response to the reworked proposal.
‘The Evaluation Panel was impressed by the expansion of the site to include the opposite bank of the River Ness and by the elegance and innovation embodied by the new design. Equally, we were impressed by the hard work, dedicated professionalism, creative imagination and sheer goodwill extended by Sans Façon and OSA to this important project for the City of Inverness. It is our settled view that the proposed structure will greatly enhance the natural beauty and flow of the Ness and will attract locals and visitors alike to explore new ways of relating to and engaging with the river.’
Chair of the Inverness City Arts Working Group, Cllr Isabelle MacKenzie said: ‘The new concept fully meets the brief and was highly recommended by the Evaluation Panel.’
The My Ness Project has been developed as a ‘Co-Production’ with the Community. This involved a two day engagement event held within Inverness Railway Station in November 2017 to which community councils and other stakeholders were invited to attend, and during which several thousand people visited the Artists Stand. Over 300 written responses were submitted which directly influenced the proposals which were agreed by the ICArts Working Group with the support if the City of Inverness Area Committee.
The project was also launched at a public event held on site during the Summer to which Community Councils were again invited.
The majority of the funding for the project is from Creative Scotland and Inverness Common Good Fund and the artists were selected by an independent panel of experts.