NEVER MIND THE BOLLARDS:
SUNDAY 23 JUNE 2019, 2-4PM, INVERNESS HIGH STREET
This artist-led walk explored Inverness city centre’s gathering spaces, public art and hidden places of interest as part of the Architecture Fringe's Open Programme.
EVENT BLOG: SADIE STODDART
As part of the Architecture Fringe, Circus Artspace held an artist led walk exploring Inverness’ city centre. The event explored the public spaces, gathering places and hidden places of interest in the city. The walk began at the foot of the Market Brae steps, a gathering spot on our journey. Circus members Cat Meighan and Kirsten Body gave a brief introduction to the group before beginning the walk. We took a short walk up the high street, one of the busiest areas in the town centre and were asked to reflect on the overall aesthetic of the street. As a group we attempted to count the sheer number of bollards that stretch along the high street; this we soon realised was an impossible task. A dialogue quickly opened up between the artists and participants about how the space works for the public when there are so many restrictive barriers or furniture in the way. To reflect on this idea further we were encouraged as a group to tie ribbon around the bollards and make these restrictive barriers even more restrictive. Not only did this highlight the features of the space but it showed how these barriers work in directing people along the high street.
We continued along the walk were introduced to some of the city’s public art. This included some of the often over looked pieces that you pass by on a daily basis or you admire but don’t know the full context of. One example that was brought to our attention was DUFI’s street texts which are strewn along the paving stones of Inverness’ old town. The work was created by DUFI through engaging with members of the Inverness public and depicts stories, psalms and the history of some of the old town.
Along the way we made a stop at one of the city’s previous art project sites, Rose Street Car Park. This is a space that is used almost daily by many members of the public but was taken over by Inverness Old Town Art (IOTA) in 2011 who were encouraged to make art and artists central to the new identity of the city centre. Circus member Kirsten Body was involved in the IOTA project back in 2011 and explained how the public space was used during this time. We were given a tour of the different levels of the car park and were shown or described the different happenings that went on during the project. This included a ceilidh, film nights at the top of the car park, the spray painting of the public’s cars with Team Recoat and shown some of the commissioned graffiti they did on each level. Hearing about this project and the effect it had on the space, for the people that worked and visited the site, was really inspiring and it opened up a dialogue about other ways art could intervene and interrupt on the mundane spaces in our daily lives.
Further on in the walk we were also shown some of Inverness’ heritage sites. This included some of the cities three old burial grounds. They are situated right in the centre of Inverness and make up some of the last remaining green spaces in the city centre. With a lack of both green spaces and creative spaces these public sites are areas of importance for us as a society and could be fantastic sites for possible projects and cultural events; thus utilising what’s available.
We continued our walk along the River Ness and were introduced to Annie Cattrell’s ‘Seer’, a relatively new piece of public art located just below Friars Bridge. This recent sculpture is piece commissioned as part of the River Ness Public Art Project, and for many of the participants it was the first time seeing and interacting with the work. This allowed us to hear about some of the ongoing public art projects in the city and discuss how the communities that the art is situated within engage with similar work.
Having lived in Inverness my whole life it was interesting taking a step back and seeing the city with fresh eyes. The walk connected us with new spaces and made us look at familiar spaces in a new light. The artist led walk was a great tool for opening up discussion on what a public space is and how the space could and should be used. As a group we questioned the relationship we have with historical sites and what we as a community can do to change the way we interact with some of the built environments in our communities. The guided walk helped us to examine the history, mark the present and look to the future with regards to public spaces, gathering places and hidden places of interests and we were able to begin contemplating future projects, work and engagement that can occur within city centres like Inverness’.