Highland Print Studio: Shapechangers

Throughout November 2023, a remarkable series of temporary outdoor artworks created by young people was unveiled along the National Cycle Network in Scotland. ‘ShapeChangers’ aimed to empower young people and inspire residents of Glasgow, Alloa, Greenock and Inverness to explore their local areas by walking, wheeling, and cycling on the National Cycle Network.

This was how Sustrans Scotland introduced their flagship arts project of 2023, with Highland Print Studio being one of four organisations chosen to work with young people to create substantial artworks for the network. The principle behind the project was to allow the young people to learn all aspects involved in creating a public artwork. So not just designing and carrying out the artwork, but community consultation, site requirements along with health & safety, budgets and material choices.

We worked with three students from Inverness High School – Berri, Lucy and Calin -to produce an artwork that examines Inverness’s built environment, its people, and community use, along with desires for improvement. This was to be situated on Inverness High Street, on Route 1 of the network.
Before creating the work, they engaged with the local community group Spokes for Folks, an organisation providing cycling experiences for seniors and those with support needs, even joining them on a ride which included sections of the National Cycle Network.

After much discussion and planning, the students decided to create a large scale concertina book, which could free stand on the pedestrian area of the street. It would be modular, so could be positioned in sections, together and in a variety of shapes. See what we did there?…
The chosen medium for the source images was linocut, with 12 images being printed onto paper of various buildings form Inverness. Some of these were chosen by the students, other suggested by the seniors from The MacKenzie Day Centre and Spokes for Folks.

The linocut prints were then scanned and transferred to large scale screen prints, allowing them to be printed onto the 1.2m tall plyboard sections. Colour was added, along with portraits of the attendees of the MacKenzie Centre, all screenprinted with logos and descriptions. After varnishing and the artwork was hinged together and installed on the High Street. Despite the pouring rain at the launch it really glowed and had great presence in the town centre – a real credit to the student artists.

After its stint on the High Street, the artwork spent a week on show inside the MacKenzie Centre, before moving to its permanent home at Inverness High School.

It is a great example of applied printmaking, showing how the marks from a technique like relief print need not be confined to paper. The boldness of the marks and cutting was ideal for the outdoors, it worked equally well close up as it did from 50m away.

Thanks to Sustrans for their funding and the opportunity, and to Spokes for Folks and The MacKenzie Centre for their invaluable help in planning the artwork. Also Berri, Lucy and Calin, who were great to work with and a pleasure to have in the studio.

Back to projects

© Highland Print Studio - Site by Denvir Marketing