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Iconic John O'Groats landmark set for transformation

07 June 2011

The iconic John O'Groats hotel is set to have one final moment of glory before work begins to redevelop it as part of the regeneration of the well known tourist location later this year.

It will form the centre piece of 'Transform', a weekend of community celebration at the start of July at John O'Groats featuring street art, video projections, ceramic firings, story-telling, and music.

The event is part of a wider arts strategy drawn up following consultation with locals, visitors and businesses on their vision for the future of the village.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has now invested £50,000, which has been matched with £58,500 of European LEADER funding, to deliver a range of projects to ensure that creative involvement is an integral part of the future design.

Carol Gunn, head of transformational projects with HIE, said: "One of the messages we got loud and clear from local people is that the future shape of John O'Groats, while meeting the needs of tourists, should also reflect the culture and heritage of the village."

"We have appointed a group of artists to kick-off the redevelopment through a range of exciting new projects, many involving the community as contributors. This community work has already started and the artists' projects will culminate in this weekend of arts activity for all the family with temporary works, events and an arts ceilidh."

The artists are all coming together at John O'Groats for the first time today (Tuesday) to officially launch the project.

With building work starting in the Autumn, the various projects will address long term design elements and the 'Transform' artists are creating temporary works that reflect and celebrate the changes about to take place.

Carol commented: "The transformation of John O'Groats is so important socially and economically to the local area. We are delighted that by kicking off our arts project now we can raise awareness both locally and nationally about the changes which are taking place here - and can invite people to be part of the process as it unfolds. We will be working with local schools and groups and we hope visitors at John O'Groats will enjoy seeing the Transform arts projects come together."

Local influence is an important part of the projects according to Arts Programme Manager Sue Pirnie.

She said: "Local people will recognise the significance of the 'Groatie Buckies' project. This is named after the small cowrie shells from the local beach which, if kept in your purse, will ensure that you will never be poor. Artists will work with the community to celebrate the wealth of the area as a place to live - its natural and cultural heritage.

"Several artists will be appearing at the Canisbay show where there will be opportunities for even more locals and visitors to see and get involved in their work. Later in the year more temporary works and activities will be programmed, and also the first permanent works as part of the redevelopment of the site and the surrounding area."

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