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Award-winning artists commissioned to create John O’ Groats sculpture

05 March 2015

Connections to the sea celebrated with ‘Nomadic Boulders’ artwork

Award-winning Scottish artists Dalziel + Scullion have been commissioned to create a new permanent artwork, ‘Nomadic Boulders’ at John O’ Groats. Supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Creative Scotland, the artwork will be a focal point for locals and visitors in the heart of the small Highland coastal village.

Dundee-based Matthew Dalziel and Louise Scullion are Scottish based artists who have worked in collaboration since 1993. The duo has established an international reputation as environmental artists, with their work on such projects as the Scottish Natural Heritage’s headquarters, Great Glen House in Inverness; Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum Glasgow; and the Science Museum in London.

The artists will work in conjunction with Edinburgh based engineers Blyth & Blyth and the internationally renowned Black Isle Bronze foundry, based in Nairn near Inverness, to develop their unique concept, ‘Nomadic Boulders’.

Louise Scullion said: "We are really excited by this project, there are so many interesting stories surrounding John O’ Groats, concerning its unusual biodiversity, its local customs and remarkable geology, often these get overlooked by visitors to the area, but when we heard about the rolling boulders of the Pentland Firth, we thought them a unique emblem of just how powerful this mighty body of water is - one of the fastest currents in the world - whose strength is hard to imagine from the safety of the shore. We very much look forward to realising this project with the skilful and experienced team who have committed to it.”

Local stories tell of large boulders on the seabed of the Pentland Firth rolling backwards and forwards with the tides, Dalziel + Scullion confirmed the truth of these stories with various experts, including professor Stephen Salter of the University of Edinburgh - who was involved in some of the early seabed surveys of the area – and the European Marine Energy Centre and the Fisheries Research Lab in Aberdeen.

The Pentland Firth’s itinerant boulders are thought to range from 25cm to 100cm diameter and depending on the ferocity of tides and currents travel significant distances with every 12 hour tide cycle. Dalziel + Scullion will create a sculpture which will highlight and celebrate this natural occurrence beneath the waves.

A public meeting will be held in the John O’ Groats Village Hall on the 13 March at 7:00pm when the artists will introduce and illustrate their idea. The project design team will work with local people, stakeholders and landowners until a final unveiling event at the end of Autumn 2015.

Hilary Budge of HIE, said “We are excited to have the opportunity, working with Creative Scotland, to help facilitate the creation of this imaginative artwork. John O’ Groats is a key destination for tourists as well as our local populations, and we believe this piece of work, themed on the power of the Pentland Firth, will provide a fitting focal point to this iconic site.”

David Taylor, Portfolio Manager Special Projects at Creative Scotland, said: “We are delighted to partner with HIE in support of Dalziel + Scullion’s artwork, ‘Nomadic Boulders’, a landmark symbol for the 21st century tourist at John O’Groats. We hope the artwork created by these award winning environmental artists will excite and attract tourists to visit the area, and create a lasting legacy for Scotland’s most northerly mainland village.”

The permanent artwork project for John O’ Groats is part funded by HIE and Creative Scotland up to a maximum of £162,000. The budget for this aspect of the project is £118,000. Dalziel + Scullion were chosen after a two-stage procurement process through Public Contracts Scotland.

Notes to Editors

About Dalziel + Scullion

Matthew Dalziel and Louise Scullion are Scottish based artists who have worked in collaboration since 1993.

The Dalziel + Scullion studio is located within the city of Dundee in Scotland. The studio creates artworks in photography, video, sound and sculpture that explore new artistic languages around the subject of ecology. The work strives to visualise aspects of our shared environment from alternative perspectives and to re-establish and re-evaluate our engagement with the non-human species we live alongside.

They have been selected for important national and international exhibitions including the British Art Show and the Venice Biennale and have been awarded numerous awards and prizes including being short-listed for the international Artes Mundi Prize 2008. For further information, visit:

About Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit Follow us @creativescots and

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Ed. White 13/03/2015

If there are known to be rolling boulders in the Pentland Firth, why on earth are we encouraging Meygen to put tidal turbines amongst them? Would sooner see the funds spent on a robust coastal path from John O'Groats to Roberts Haven.

sam ainsley 27/03/2015

I think Louise Scullion and Matthew Dalziel are two of the most interesting artists working in Scotland today and less well known than they ought to be! I am delighted that they have been given this major commission,I am sure it will be as thought provoking, beautiful and memorable as all their other work has been.

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