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Launch of Spirit:360 artists digital platform for the Highlands

By Ian Duncan

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Spirit:360 artist Simon Riddell with traditional collodion wet plate photography process.
Spirit:360 artist Simon Riddell with traditional collodion wet plate photography process.

Today marks the official launch of the Spirit:360 digital platform of more than 60 artists.

They each received a commission of up to £1000 to create works inspired from the theme Spirit of the Highlands.

The online platform features all commissioned artists, each with their own profile page showcasing their work for the project.

Working with the creative and cultural sector in the Highlands, Spirit:360 ensured a wide geographic and thematic spread, rooted within the communities of the area.

Due to the calibre of content submitted some of the works are expected to be developed further to become elements within Inverness Castle when it opens as a world class visitor attraction in 2025.

Spirit:360 is a commissioning programme for emerging and established creatives in partnership with Highland Place Partnership and Creative Scotland Place Partnership to support and promote artists during a challenging few years.

Spirit:360 Artist Simon Riddell (centre) with colleagues from East Sutherland Rescue Association.
Spirit:360 Artist Simon Riddell (centre) with colleagues from East Sutherland Rescue Association.

Simon Riddell, a lifeboat crew member with the East Sutherland Rescue Association (ESRA) based in Dornoch, was successful in receiving a commission for the project.

He used a traditional photography technique invented in 1851 to capture portraits and the spirit of the lifeboat crew.

He said: “The ethos of the ESRA is our willingness to put ourselves in harm’s way to protect others and effect a rescue, which has been carried over 42 years within the lifeboat service. So, I wanted to capture this spirit using a traditional method to create wet plate collodion tintype portraits.”

Spirit:360 Artist Alan Murray.
Spirit:360 Artist Alan Murray.

Artist Alan Murray said: “It’s been a real joy to be involved in the Spirit:360 project. I was commissioned to write and record a song about the Cave of Gold story on Skye, with the aim of introducing it to a new audience and future visitors to the area.

"It’s exciting now to see what all the other artists have been working on. I think the project is a beautiful way to celebrate the spirit of the Highlands, its stories and the creative potential of those who call it home.”

Councillor Ian Brown, the leader of Inverness and area committee and co-chairman of the inverness castle delivery group said: “It is fantastic to see such a wide variety of artwork from the Spirit:360 project and hope that the digital platform encourages visitors to explore those places which have inspired the creative professionals involved in the project.”

Bryan Beattie, creative director, Inverness Castle – Spirit of the Highlands, said: “We wanted to support creative professionals in challenging times and the Highland Place Partnership and Creative Scotland made that possible through Spirit:360, which provided a unique opportunity to showcase the artists' incredible diversity.

"It’s been terrific to work with them over the last two years and see their work evolve across a range of disciplines – I’m excited that it's now available digitally for everyone to explore their interpretation of the Spirit of the Highlands.”

Karen Dick, from Creative Scotland, said: “We are thrilled to see the creativity which has emerged from the Spirit:360 commissioned artists. Each piece of artwork highlights a significant story, place or feeling that the Highlands represents for that artist and is now available for visitors to experience too.”

The Spirit:360 platform can be accessed at the Discover the Highlands and Islands website.

Spirit:360 is supported by the Creative Scotland Place Partnership programme and is administered by High Life Highland, as part of the Spirit of the Highlands project.

The Inverness Castle project, opening in 2025, will benefit from £30m investment to support its re-development from the Scottish and UK Governments, The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and a range of other partners.

The Inverness Castle project is part of the Inverness and Highland City Region deal, which is a joint initiative supported by up to £315m investment from the UK and Scottish governments, The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and University of the Highlands and Islands, aimed at stimulating sustainable regional economic growth.

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