WALKING and cycling charity Sustrans and Inverclyde Council have unveiled new public art at Greenock Waterfront.
The Creative Conversations II project involved local artists represent Inverclyde’s past, present and future through three installations along National Cycle Network Route 75.
Local charity RIG Arts and artist Tragic O’Hara were commissioned to engage with the Greenock community to deliver a series of permanent artworks for the waterfront area.
They partnered with local groups and individuals in the area to shape and deliver the final designs, creating eye-catching artworks which it is hoped will encourage more people to walk, wheel and cycle along the already well-loved route.
Looking to the past, Jason Orr’s ‘Yardmen’ celebrates Inverclyde’s rich shipbuilding heritage in miniature form.
The 12-inch tall figures represent the lives and work of the ordinary people who built the Clyde coast, and celebrate the skills of the workers who committed blood, sweat and tears to the shipbuilding industry.
Representing the present day, Alan Potter has created ‘Ebb & Flow’ –- seating based on the forms of kelp and sealife, featuring a statue of a seal at its centre.
The spiral seating, made from oak with embedded porcelain and pebble mosaics, depicts typical Clyde riverlife including mackerel, salmon, wrasse, flounder and crab.
Tragic O’Hara’s ‘Mechanical Animals’ is a stark warning for the future, representing what may happen if the climate and biodiversity emergencies continue unchecked.
Three ‘mechanical’ jellyfish sculptures, constructed from steel and Perspex and placed on top of recycled telephone poles, depict a future in which robotic versions of animal species which no longer exist have to be invented.
Cosmo Blake, network engagement manager at Sustrans Scotland, said: “As we face the global climate emergency, it’s crucial that we work together to make walking, wheeling and cycling the most attractive choices for more of our journeys.
“Traffic-free walking, wheeling and cycling connections along the National Cycle Network allow people to make happier, healthier and more sustainable journeys.
“Working alongside our communities, we want to make these routes more welcoming, inclusive and interesting spaces for everyone.
“By partnering with Inverclyde Council, RIG Arts, Tragic O’Hara and local groups on this exciting project, we wanted to empower the community to put their own stamp on the waterfront area, reflecting Greenock’s rich history and heritage.
“All three artworks have created exciting new points of interest along this well-used connection on National Cycle Network Route 75.
“And we hope they inspire many more people across Inverclyde to explore the area in a sustainable and active way.”
Councillor Jim Clocherty, depute leader of Inverclyde Council and convener of education and communities, said: “This has been a real team effort from everyone involved to deliver vibrant and thought-provoking artworks, adding extra dimensions to the already picturesque Greenock waterfront that we hope people near and far will visit.
“Fresh from the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, elements of the artwork are very timely in raising awareness of the environmental emergency we are currently in, while encouraging people to do one of the many things that can help reduce harmful greenhouse gases; engage with active travel.
“The artworks are also a nod to our rich, shipbuilding history.
“Celebrating one of our greatest assets, the river, right on the banks of the Clyde itself and adding a splash of colour to this beautiful section of the National Cycle Network will only encourage more people to Discover Inverclyde.”
Karen Orr, chief executive of RIG Arts said: “RIG Arts’s collaboration with artist Tragic O’Hara on Creative Conversations was a great opportunity to work with local people to really find out what they thought about public art, and what it could and should be.
“Working within the confines of the Covid-19 pandemic was a challenging but interesting process, and the three co-created artworks reflect the current times and are very embedded in and inspired by the place.
“We hope that the works will stimulate conversations and encourage visitors to the area. They are so diverse that there should be something for everyone to enjoy and interact with.”
The initiative was backed by funding from Transport Scotland and the National Lottery Heritage Fund through the Great Place Inverclyde Scheme.