by Colin Campbell
WHICH classic wordsmith within Highland Council’s press and public relations department is saddled with the appalling task of trying to explain the local authority’s approach to “artwork”?
Whoever he or she is, they surely deserve some sympathy.
They’ve already had to dredge the bottom of the barrel to try and scrape together some justification for the riverside Gathering Place travesty.
And the daunting challenges just keep on coming.
What is the apparition above, a few stone steps with a railing which has been planted alongside parkland greenery? It looks like something like the entrance to a block of flats that was never built.
If any structure anywhere in Inverness looks so inexplicably out of place, I’ve yet to come across it.
It’s the kind of thing you’d stop and gape at if you saw it in a ramble through trees, pathways and parkland. And would then blurt out: “What the hell is that supposed to be?”
In fact, it is yet another utterly bizarre piece of council “artwork”.
It was supposed to be installed with others like it along the riverside.
But no one wanted these things there, people said they looked totally out of place, and demanded yet again that the riverside should just be left alone.
That left the council needing to find somewhere to put them, somewhere where stone steps and railings jutting up for no conceivable reason would result in the minimum of controversy or protest.
So this apparition has now been implanted at a park near the former Torvean Golf Course.
And in terms of creating bafflement and mystification, the council’s “artwork” brigade has again managed a hole in one.
But someone within the local authority had to devise an explanation for its presence there.
And striving with every sinew at a keyboard, they tried so very, very hard.
The explanation they came up with: “Its new position will provide families and visitors with some excellent wildlife photography opportunities by having a raised view of the pond. It might even turn into a popular wildlife selfie spot and somewhere to stop, take in the sights and sounds of around the water and provide an excellent place to breathe in nature, relax and take time out. Countless studies have shown that spending time outside and in a natural environment can also have a positive impact on people’s mental health, something which is more important than ever given the negative effects the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns have had on people’s mental wellbeing.”
Only an organisation which has spent the past three years doing the most wildly unconvincing contortions to try and justify the Gathering Place could have come up with such an imaginative eulogy for concrete steps and railings embedded in a park, a eulogy encompassing relaxing, breathing, lockdown, “taking time out”, mental wellbeing and recovering from the pandemic.
And, as with the “justification” for the Gathering Place, it is complete and utter garbage.
These things could not go at the riverside. The council could have stored them in a shed, or converted them into bricks to build a wall – a necessary wall – somewhere in the city.
But “artwork” like this is sacrosanct, so they had to go somewhere. Hence the appearance of this one beside parkland.
These ludicrous structures will have cost money, and, if the £300,000 spent on the Gathering Place wall and concrete pathways is anything go by, a lot of money.
It’s an ongoing saga of scandalous folly and waste.
At what point will the council’s “artwork” enthusiasts finally wilt under the weight of ridicule and mockery and even despair directed by so many members of the public at their idiocy and ineptitude in imposing this kind of rubbish on the riverside and elsewhere in Inverness, and just pack it all in?