by Alan Potter (2006)
in consultation with the Invergordon Highland Gathering Committee and South Lodge Community Wing Management Committee
The Invergordon Highland Gathering was an important annual event for the local community and visitors for over 100 years. Originally, it took place in September each year to coincide with the arrival of the naval fleet in Invergordon.
The Design Process
Alan met with the Invergordon Highland Gathering Committee and members of the South Lodge Community Wing Management Committee to discuss ideas for the mural.
Once the artist had drafted the design for a mural, the community groups involved and representatives from Invergordon Off the Wall met with Alan to talk through the design. Here is the artist’s maquette for Gather Round.
Gather Round – Artist’s Interpretation
“This mural depicts the various events which appear annually at Invergordon Highland Gathering. The composition is divided into two areas which illustrate the way the games are organised.
The heavy events and high jump take place within the central arena. Heavy events include tossing the caber, throwing the hammer, throwing the weight and putting the shott.
Outside the ring, which takes the form of an interlocking golden Celtic pattern set against a purple background there are the other events such as Children’s events – the egg and spoon race, sack race, athletics, cycle racing, highland dancing and piping.
The piper is a portrait of world champion the late John D. Burgess.
The base of the mural is taken up by the tug of war between the Seaforth Highlanders and the Royal Navy.
Also shown are local landmarks, the fun fair, the Church Steeple and an oil rig.”
Alan Potter 3rd May 2007
Preparing the wall
All the mural walls needed to be prepared before painting could begin. This required screeding the walls with a mix of sand and cement, and then once this was ready the wall would be painted with standard white masonry paint. This created a smooth canvas for the artist to start painting onto.
This wall needed a special mix due to it coating a stone wall.
“Alan worked with the Highland Games committee and the South Lodge Community Wing committee, on the mural “Gather round” which is on the side of the laundrette.
He pegged it firmly in Invergordon through the inclusion of the church steeple, the Hercher family sideshows, and of course a phenomenal likeness of Pipe Major John Burgess. His wife Sheila Burgess cut the ribbon at the opening of this mural.
In the foreground of this mural you will see the Seaforths and the Navy pulling a tug of war rope which represents Invergordon’s struggles. This feature is often used by posing tourists. All the activities which took place inside the circle are depicted within the Celtic ring.
He also painted a passing nod to the folk who contributed making sure to include MacGregor tartan for the wall owner, Campbell for our chairman, Ross and Munro local clans and I’m pleased to say the dancer is wearing Anderson which is my own maiden name.”
Marion Rhind, Invergordon Off the Wall
Painting in progress
Download our app
Why not download the location-aware Invergordon Off the Wall app to help you find the murals, unlock interactive features and learn even more about them during your visit to Invergordon.
The History of the Invergordon Highland Gathering
Sporting events at the Highland Games can be traced back over a thousand years, with their origins in the trials set by ancient Kings and Clan Chiefs who aimed to find the swiftest messengers and strongest warriors. The loyal servants of old are represented by today’s athletes.
The Invergordon Highland Games started in 1923, and was held in September of each year to coincide with the arrival of the naval fleet. In the 1960s, it changed to the 4th Saturday in August every year.
Ship versus Ship, as well as Army versus Navy events fostered a healthy and highly competitive atmosphere with many coveted trophies being awarded.
If you wanted to compete in the Invergordon Games it was very straightforward, competitors could come along and register on the day itself.
Events included piping, a competition for juniors and seniors, highland dancing, cycling, running, tossing the caber, tug of war, and light field events.
The popular tea tent, craft stalls, and bar tent all combined to make the Games a day out to enjoy.
Of course, no Invergordon Highland Gathering would be complete without the Herchers’ sideshows which became very much an annual tradition. The Herchers were a family originally from Beauly, and records show that they attended the games as far back as 1933. Charles Hercher, then his son James and his sons Mark and Jamie kept the business going in recent times.
Sadly the last games in Invergordon took place in 2015, leaving an amazing local legacy and many memories.