A major new public artwork for Scotland in the heart of the Highland Capital, Inverness.
Found along the banks of the iconic River Ness, ‘The Gathering Place’ was co-created by the collaborative team of Sans façon and KHBT for the City of Inverness.
The artists were tasked with creating an artwork that “re-connects the city with the river, drawing out its stories, engendering a sense of place and creating access to the river.”
It was an opportunity to revisit the river's social role within the fabric of the city and celebrate its distinct character.
A short walk upstream from the centre of Inverness, 'The Gathering Place' creates a sense of place that draws your attention to the nature and character of the River Ness. Framed on both banks, Clashach stone encircles a portion of the river along the water's edge.
The simple contour of stone transitions from bench like platform to a pier where it reaches out to offer views upstream in the direction of Loch Ness and back towards the Castle and heart of the city.
Echoing the shape of the banks of the river the artwork maintains a low, horizontal presence so it does not dominate the landscape while views are unobstructed to ensure the river itself remains the focus.
The Clashach stone was selected for its beauty and the proximity of its origin in Moray to the site which has historically made it the material of choice for many important local buildings including the ‘Town House’ and further afield the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and the Sagrada Família, Barcelona.
Given the artworks proximity to the river and the sensitivity of the site, the artists, engineers and construction team liaised closely with NatureScot (formerly Scottish Natural Heritage), SEPA, Historic Environment Scotland, Scottish Forestry and Land and the flood risk management team to ensure the piece has the durability to withstand use and weather events with minimal or no impact on wildlife, natural habitats, or trees.
The project is indebted to the craft and skill of Beauly based Simpsons Builders who undertook construction of the work and the people of Inverness who participated in the design process and stuck with the project throughout the pandemic delays to make this permanent addition to the historic River Ness for all citizens and visitors to enjoy.