Bookmark and Share


Location: Inverness, Scotland

Artists: Peter Chang, David Germond (Juggernaut), Robert Kilvington, Mike Malig, Wendy Ramshaw, Richard Slee, Andrew Tye


Seven commissions by applied artists and designers were realised as integral elements of the redevelopment and refurbishment of the Inverness premises of the Highland Printmakers Workshop and the relaunch of the organisation as Peter Chang made a vibrantly coloured handrail from plastics, reminiscent of the wing of an exotic insect; David Germond of Juggernaut, a group of four young designers, created a reception desk and display shelf along the main ground floor wall using glass and steel beams; Robert Kilvington designed simple rippling benches from laminated oak for the upper gallery; Mike Malig made two tables with blackboard centres, four chairs with leather ‘ears’ and eight stacking stools with leather pull tabs for the Edward Marshall Gallery of applied arts; Wendy Ramshaw used glass and metal to create an ornate circular glass push handle on the main door, with a glass bar inside, both with suspended coloured elements; Richard Slee created designs to be printed onto 86 pieces of standard ceramic ware, featuring thumbprints, and silhouettes; Andrew Tye made a balustrade and handrail matching the calmness and purity of the upper gallery, and comprising a series of stainless steel posts and handrail with narrow aluminium panels in a brickwork pattern. Planning permission was refused for an eighth commission, neon sculpture designed by Steve Hollingsworth as signage for the building, and this project was not realised.

Background grew out of the Highland Printmakers Workshop which was established in 1986 to provide printmaking facilities for the Scottish Highlands. In 1995, Director Adam Sutherland and the Board carried out a major review of HPW’s objectives and as a result redefined its role as an innovative multi-purpose applied arts organisation offering a major contemporary exhibition venue, workshop space and an outreach programme serving the Highlands. The organisation itself would be relaunched as to signal its new philosophy. A successful bid in early 1996 to the National Lottery Arts Fund, via the Scottish Arts Council, enabled HPW to buy its premises at Bank Street, Inverness and to restructure and refurbish them to meet the needs of its expanded remit.

Premises Redesign

Architects Sutherland Hussey were engaged to redesign the interior of the building to provide three galleries and a small retail outlet. They came up with a design which opened up the building to the street, incorporating a ground floor with bold colours and an eclectic feel, and a simple, beautifully lit white gallery space on the first floor. Central to the building concept were integrated commissions for craftsman-designed fixtures and fittings which would provide intellectual identity for, convey the multi-functional character of the organisation and its refurbished premises, and attract a broad audience. The Director wanted an emphasis on exquisite detailing which would challenge expectations and distinguish the gallery amongst its Scottish peers. The building’s main focal point was to be the ground floor reception desk and display area, and in mid 1996, Adam Sutherland applied to the Edward Marshall Trust for support for a commission for the reception desk, in response to the Trust’s national invitation for projects involving innovative design for functional items, particularly furnishings.

Edward Marshall Trust

The Edward Marshall Trust aims to sponsor progressive ideas and action in the fields of design, craftsmanship and production of useable objects. In its biennial awards the Trust gives £10,000 to the winning proposal and becomes an active partner in its realisation. The application from HPW was one of six to be short-listed from a field of 25 applications, and representatives of the Trustees visited Bank Street in October 1996 to meet Adam and assess the project in greater detail. They were attracted by the building design, the broad range of possible commissions, the opportunity for the Trust’s award to attract Lottery funding, and found in Adam Sutherland an open-minded, energetic and sympathetic collaborator. Faced with a tough choice between two strong contenders, the Trust decided to make awards to two projects in 1996/97, one of them HPW. After further exploratory talks, the Trust subsequently withdrew from the second project, and was able to commit additional funds to the commissions at HPW.

Project Team

Adam Sutherland, Sutherland Hussey and the Edward Marshall Trust collaborated as a project team over the development and delivery of the commissions. Adam, as Director of HPW (later was overall project manager for the building, the commissions and financial matters, and had the final veto on artist selection and their designs. The Edward Marshall Trust managed the selection process and administration of the commissions, ensured regular liaison between all parties, undertook additional fundraising and sponsorship, and led press and PR. The architects played a key role in refining the artists’ briefs and dealt with practical and design matters connected with the building’s refurbishment. The project hinged around complete transparency between the artists, the architects, and the Trust throughout.

Artist Selection

In late 1996, the project team had several meetings during which they identified a number of commission opportunities within the refurbishment project, and calculated the sums allocated to fixtures and fittings in the architects’ budget. They agreed a brief for seven commissions with notional budgets for fabrication of between £5,000 and £8,000, amounting to about £40,000 in total. These included the reception desk, flooring, tableware, door furniture, tables and chairs, gallery seating and signage. A national call in early 1997, advertised in Crafts Magazine and Artists Newsletter invited artists and craftspeople to apply for one or more commissions and to submit slides. It drew 80 responses from which seven artists were chosen:- Peter Chang, Steve Hollingsworth, David Germond (Juggernaut), Robert Kilvington, Mike Malig, Wendy Ramshaw and Andrew Tye. In the main, these were young and less experienced artists, in line with the Edward Marshall’s Trust’s priorities, with two more mature practitioners, Peter Chang and Wendy Ramshaw, both of whom had recently expanded their successful jewellery design practices to include projects on a much larger scale.

Commissions Process

In late February 1997 the seven artists were invited to a briefing meeting with the project team in Inverness, with their flights paid. They looked at the shell of the building and the plans, including paint samples, and were introduced to each other’s work. The process of working was discussed and all the artists expressed themselves happy to work openly with each other and the architects. At the end of the visit, Adam announced the allocation of commissions and budgets. Each artist’s detailed brief was fine-tuned in individual discussions, in the light of the artist’s approach and use of materials. Two of the commissions, for flooring and tableware, were not allocated, and two further opportunities had meanwhile been identified:- a hand rail for the stairs and a balustrade in the upper gallery around the stairwell. The commissions were allocated as follows:- Peter Chang – handrail, Steve Hollingsworth – signage, David Germond – reception desk, Robert Kilvington – gallery seating, Mike Malig – tables and chairs, Wendy Ramshaw – door furniture and Andrew Tye – balustrade. In early April, after a more limited second trawl for suitable craftspeople, Richard Slee, who had been artist in residence at HPW in 1996, was selected to design the ceramic tableware. The flooring commission was transferred to the building contract.

The artists were awarded a fee of £400 to produce sketch designs which they were asked to present to the project team and each other at a meeting in early April 1997. Six of the artists’ sketch designs were approved at this meeting. However, one of the artists was felt to have interpreted the brief in a way which would be detrimental to the upper gallery space. He was asked prepare new sketch proposals within his original design fee, for presentation to the project team three weeks later. His revised designs and Richard Slee’s design proposals were accepted in early May. The artists were formally commissioned after their sketch designs were approved, and they were asked to develop working drawings for delivery to the architects in late May, with a view to the gallery reopening in mid October. By late May the opening date for the gallery had been shifted to December due to funding delays, and complications with excavating and underpinning the Bank Street building in order to provide office space at lower ground level and a lift to all floors.

Steve Hollingsworth’s designs for a sculpture in neon draped over the roof of the building were accepted at the sketch design stage subject to receiving statutory approvals. The Inverness planning authority is by its own admission fairly relaxed over most planning issues but has two particular exclusions – no neon and no signs on roofs. The artist was warned of this when the application went forward for consent. The subsequent refusal of planning permission for the work provoked considerable response from the public and the issue ran in the papers for several weeks. This commission was never realised.


Sutherland and Hussey were overseeing the construction phase of the building as part of their contract, and they took on the practical management of the commissions on site as well. The artists liaised directly with them over practical details throughout the summer while the commissions were being fabricated. In particular, David Germond, Peter Chang and Andrew Tye, whose commissions were to be fixed to the building, had to meet critical dates in the building construction schedule in order supply details of the type and location of fixings required for the installation of their work. All the commissioned work was delivered to the refurbished building in December 1997, and the balustrade, handrail, door handle and reception desk were installed without problems. The grand re-opening was in January 1998.


The craft commissions attracted good publicity including a major article in Crafts Magazine, and won a number of design awards including the RIBA Regional Award in 1998 and the Regeneration of Scotland Award from RIAS, and was Highly Commended in the Retail Environment Category of the Design Week Awards.

© Copyright Joanna Morland 2000