Regionally significant investments

Public Arts Strategy

As part of the masterplan developments, a high level of interest had been made around public art being a primary feature of the development. Highlands and Islands Enterprise commissioned this research and report to propose an 'art masterplan' for public artwork at John O'Groats.

The public arts strategy report, attached to the left of this page, has been informed by the findings of the masterplan consultation and Heritage GB's proposals. It describes:

  • The potential development of art and design at John O'Groats:
  • The natural and cultural heritage of the site, current and future developments that make the place unique and could inform the development of new work
  • A range of approaches to develop new projects and interventions
  • The context of public policy
  • Best practice processes for the planning, recruitment and managing of programmes of work involving artists
  • Indicative time frame in tune with planned development phases
  • Indicative costs and identification of potential funding support 
  • Consultation has demonstrated interest in a range of strategies for artist's work in public areas; including subtle interventions along coastal paths, temporary works and future activity to draw interest, and to potential for work at a national level - in keeping with aspirations for the quality of the development proposed in the masterplan and shared by HIE , the community and developers.

Latest news:

Wednesday March 7th 2012

Artists Draw Up Creative Approach For John O'Groats

Two Scottish artists, with an impressive award winning portfolio of projects from across the UK, have completed a long term artistic plan as part of the regeneration of John O'Groats.

Funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Dalziel + Scullion consulted with local businesses, artists and the community over four months to develop a concept which is rooted in John O'Groats' unique identity.

The artist's ambitious vision was welcomed by local businesses and the community at a meeting in the Seaview Hotel in the village on Thursday February 23.

HIE has been leading the development work at John O'Groats, alongside Heritage Great Britain and Natural Retreats, including working with the community to create a masterplan for the regeneration of the area.

HIE is investing £1.8 million into the £6 million Natural Retreats accommodation project, as well as delivering a very successful community art project to mark the start of the transformation of the destination.

In the report, Dalziel + Scullion have identified three key elements to be incorporated within a series of artworks:

  • a sense of arrival at a remote and unique destination;
  • a sense of John O'Groats as an elemental place in its own right and
  • a sense of succession as landscapes and communities adapt to the changes and disruptions that have and continue to challenge them.

The next stage will be to consider options to take the projects forward, including potential sources of funding.

Nick Scroggie from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: "This report indicates the direction of travel we need to take to ensure that John O'Groats has a real sense of place to visitors arriving in and staying in the area as well as helping build on the confidence of the local community.

"This is an exciting time in both the history and the future of Caithness and we would love to see the community, alongside the public and private sectors, getting involved to bring these projects to life and help make them happen."

Matthew Dalziel said: "We've really enjoyed meeting the local community to discuss different ideas for the future artworks at John O'Groats. The key to the art projects is that they address the full scale of the village and its surrounding landscape, from its tiniest insect to its most ancient geology.

"Each work will have its own individual character and role but should also complement and amplify each of the other works. The artworks need to make a positive contribution to the village and one which will leave people with a rich and moving sense of this northerly corner of our mainland."

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23 June 2011 - Locals embrace plans for arts celebration at John O'Groats Transformation

Hundreds of residents and visitors in Caithness and North Sutherland are playing their part in an arts project to celebrate the start of the transformation of world famous tourist destination John O'Groats.

Three renowned Highlands and Islands artists have already been working with schools, community groups and at local events in the run up to a festival weekend of arts in the village on July 2 and 3.

The event will also feature the largest street art project the Highlands and Islands has seen, as the iconic John O'Groats hotel becomes a giant canvas, with six additional artists descending on it from Sunday night (26th June).

Nick Scroggie, of HIE, which is organising the Transform weekend, with funding support from LEADER, as part of the longer term masterplan for John O'Groats, said:

"When we spoke to local people about how they wanted John O'Groats to grow and develop they were very keen that art played a part. The design for the future look of the village, adopted by developers Heritage Great Britain and Natural Retreats, reflects local views and the environment, and in the longer term we plan to incorporate artistic input into later phases of development at John O'Groats.

"The Transform Weekend is a way for local people and visitors to take part in a celebration of the culture and heritage of John O'Groats before building work starts. There will be a whole range of activities each day and a ceilidh on the Saturday night, which will be followed by a midnight projection display."

Allan Leech of Heritage Great Britain said: "We welcome the programme of arts and events and the fantastic enthusiasm from the community to be involved. The continuing efforts by the HIE team in organising these unique cultural experiences must be commended."

Ewan Kearney of Natural Retreats added: "Consultation and input by the local community is a vital part of the successful development at John o'Groats. An early focus on arts reinforces that there is a real need to deliver not just high quality tourism businesses and products but more importantly a true "sense of place" that reflects the heritage and culture of the Highlands and Islands."

Over the past few weeks artists Gavin Lockhart, Alexandria Patience and Allison Weightman have been working to develop projects for the Transform Weekend focusing on local people themselves and reflecting the heritage and culture of John O'Groats and the surrounding communities.

Gavin was a popular attraction at the Canisbay show where he was capturing images of local people for use at the event.

Alexandria is a storyteller whose work with the National Theatre of Scotland on the 1918 Portskerra sea fishing disaster has already been in the media this week,. She and Allison Weightman, who is basing her work around the local 'Groatie Buckies,' have run workshops in Canisbay, Keiss and Crossroads Primary involving the youngsters in the preparations for the event.


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