HERITAGE OF THE FIRTH

Copyright © 2006 Invergordon off the Wall

To view other photographs of the Heritage of the Firth mural click here.

As this mural is, in effect, six individual murals covering a vast expanse of wall, the Invergordon off the Wall Committee gratefully acknowledge the support of The Cromarty Firth Port Authority who very kindly provided a generous donation to allow us to complete all six panels.

The Invergordon Naval Museum and Heritage Centre is the local community group who worked with the artist on the design for the six panels.

Below is Steve's description and interpretation of each of the six panels which are sited at The Invergordon Naval Museum

Panel 1 - The Tide Waders/Tide Waiters

PANEL 1
PANEL 1

I think this is a comic event and brought a smile to my face when I was researching it. The women, fishermen's wives, used to supplement their income by taking out and bringing to shore travellers who wanted to visit the Cromarty Firth.

Their purple blue feet accentuate the cold; what tough women they were. The two figures aloft are the lovers guarding the entrance to the firth, reaching out for one another. His clothing becomes a boat's hull and the bag around his neck is full of corn, representing the fertile Black Isle.

Panel 2 - The Natal Disaster

PANEL 2
PANEL 2

I wanted to take a new perspective of this well documented disaster, and create an image of a town overpowered by the event, with the exploding ship's hull and armaments raining down upon the town. I split the composition between the Church of Scotland and the exploding ship to create a tension and maximise the sense of a ship being a floating community.

The figures at the bottom of the composition are making their way up to the old Naval church, bathed in cold acid light.

Panel 3 - The Invergordon Mutiny

PANEL 3
PANEL 3

Admiral Thompson was the fall guy in this event which is unprecedented in naval history; he took the blame for the lack of discipline that enabled communist sympathiser Len Wincott, who is depicted pulling on the rope, to voice the naval ratings disquiet at receiving a cut in pay. The figures at the top of the picture with blood on their hands look down scornfully, allowing Admiral Thompson to take the blame in spite of his careful and diplomatic handling of the situation.

Panel 4 - Tank 13

PANEL 4
PANEL 4

I wanted to express pictorially this event from the experience of one person and her description of events. From her hairdressing salon she heard the low rumbling sound of a lone aircraft. She came running from her shop, followed by all her clients, still with their heads wrapped in towels, to see the tank erupt and leak oil all the way down the railway line.

Panel 5 - The Smelter -The Poisoned Chalice

PANEL 5
PANEL 5

The town was promised a level of employment with the introduction of the aluminium smelter that it could have hardly dreamed of. The shift away from the land and sea as sources of income, as depicted by the farm, and taking up industrial jobs was short lived. The smelter closed in 1981 with the loss of all jobs. I wanted to portray the sense of betrayal and the false promises that had ensued with the Smelter being sited at Invergordon.

The figure in the suit represents the South mouther bringing money, wealth and prestige. The figure balancing precariously in the aluminium boat is uncertain and off balance; what might he expect with this chalice that is being handed to him?

All the symbols in the picture relate to the terrible sense of betrayal the town experienced.

Panel 6 - The Oil Rig

PANEL 6
PANEL 6

I wanted to portray the rig as if it was a cathedral towering out from the sea with a big dramatic sky which dwarfs all. This panel is a full stop and compliments the first panel of the two sutors and the gulf of life between them, which has been Invergordon's history.

I would like to thank everyone for their courage and support in allowing me the freedom to express my vision of this area and to paint it so expressively.

Steve des Landes
October 2006

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