At the core of this project is community collaboration.  It is all the local people, businesses, volunteers, children and young people, artists, funders and organisations who have made this project the success it is.

Local people and community groups have been consulted and involved in every stage of the project.

In April 2003, Invergordon Off the Wall was one of 11 groups out of 80 chosen to attend a 2 day training course in community consultation by Rural Voices.  A community consultation was carried out afterwards with 75.5% in favour of the mural project.  

  • The first consultation process – what did the local community think about the mural trail idea?

    In April 2003 our group entered a Rural Voices action research competition and from an entry of 80 was one of a group of 11 chosen to attend a 2 day training course in consultation procedures, and a seminar on rural capacity building. This enabled us to thoroughly consult our community.

    Invitations to the first day’s consultation were distributed by a small army of volunteers to every household in Invergordon within a three-mile radius. This resulted in a steady flow of people throughout the day and it is estimated that around 500 people visited the exhibition of old photographs and continuous power point presentation of the proposed mural project.

    The day culminated in a public meeting addressed to a packed hall where a comprehensive presentation was delivered. A question and answer session ensued, which resulted in an overwhelming mandate to go ahead with our project.

    All attendees were asked to fill in a questionnaire or take one away with a stamped addressed envelope. One aspect of the procedure was that every one was given space and time to fill these in and no pressure was ever brought to bear. Some disabled participants required a scribe and where possible their carer was asked to fulfil this purpose.

    We then conducted 3 other open days, sited to access as broad a range of the population as possible, at Invergordon Academy, the leisure centre and an evening at the Invergordon Social Club bingo when the house was full to capacity.

    Following on from the open days, 12 consultation sessions with local groups were conducted.

    Eager to gain more information on subject matter we conducted a Heritage Ceilidh and collected over 400 photographs.

    The results of our questionnaire – adhering strictly to Rural Voices guidelines – demonstrate that out of a total of 559 respondents 75.4 % were in favour of the project, 12.8% were not sure and 11.8% were not in favour. These results were published in the local paper and displayed in our local enterprise window for 6 months. We also set up a drop in office which was manned every Friday (Market Day) for 6 months to collect information from local people.

The first mural to be painted was The Loch by Ken White (2004), in consultation with Kildary Loch Angling Club and Albyn Housing Society, who granted permission for it to be painted onto the front of their building.  The mural was funded by Forward Scotland.  

Volunteer Spirit by Ken White (2005) was the second mural to be painted with funding from Aggregate tax and it was designed in consultation with the Invergordon RNLI Lifeboat Station crew.

Off the Wall out fundraising for the project

Noreen and Marion at the Raft Race

Noreen Kelman and Marion Rhind at the Raft Race

Invergordon Off the Wall

Wilma Joss, June Mackay, Ann Crawford and Noreen Kelman

Help with our fundraising!

The next 8 murals!

The next stage was a successful package of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Leader Plus and Highlands and Islands Enterprise for 8 more murals and a project officer.

This is how the mural trail grew and made Invergordon Mural Town of the Highlands!


We involved local people and community groups in every stage of the process.  We asked local community groups for mural topic ideas.  We held a public voting day for people to choose their favourite ideas from a list of 14 at the Arts Centre in September 2005.  People could vote for their favourite 3 ideas and also share ideas and photos with us.  161 people attended this event.


Next 8 murals consultation - public voting day

We included the children and young people of Invergordon by holding a similar voting day at Invergordon Academy with 367 students participating!  Each with 3 votes for their favourites.

We organised Out of Eden drama workshops at all the local primary schools for groups of children to explore their favourite mural themes and vote for their favourite.  

The Top 8 Murals

  1. The Natural History of the Firth
  2. The Heritage of the Firth
  3. High Street
  4. Highland Games
  5. Fire!  Fire!  
  6. Century of Sport
  7. Seaforths
  8. Saltburn

The Seaforths made it to the Top 8, but Invergordon Off the Wall suggested this topic themselves and decided to find additional funding for this mural to allow other groups to progress first.  This means the Pipe Band and Distillery moved up into the Top 8 and this also reflects the children’s interest in the Pipe Band more fairly too.

Matching Murals to Walls

Matching Murals to Walls evening

The “Matching Murals to Walls” evening gave the 8 mural groups a chance to look at the possible locations and vote for their top 3 favourites for their mural.  We also invited the property owners to identify their preferred topics and to indicate any they did not want for their walls.

Property owner agreements were organised with the support of a local solicitor who generously offered her time as gift in kind towards the project including helping us to negotiate a unique tripartite agreement with Network Rail and Scotrail for the Seaforths mural at the station.

“We knew the skills we didn’t have on board and while enthusiasm goes a long way it does need a base in practicality. So we drew on local talent Alex and Norma Young and Dolan Shearer gave us the benefit of their artistic abilities. Janet Wilson offered legal advice. Ewan Mann of Torrance Partnership offered to survey the walls assisted by the fire brigade and their cherry picker for access.”

Marion Rhind, founder of Invergordon Off the Wall

Putting together the Artist’s Design Brief

A total of 14 different community groups in Invergordon had representatives involved in the development of this phase of 8 murals.

The first stage was to help to write the Artist’s Design Brief with the Project Officer by bringing along ideas, photographs and stories along to the first meeting.

Each group agreed the following:

  • the key themes of their mural topic
  • particular scenes, images or visions they felt were important to represent
  • whether or not they wanted to be involved in painting
  • whether or not they wanted children or young people to be involved in designing and/or painting the mural with the artist

These ideas formed the design brief for the mural which was then approved by the group at a second meeting with the project officer.

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.

Ideas and Designs

Each community group who nominated one of the winning topics for the murals, was involved in the development of their mural and given an opportunity to participate in every stage possible.  This included what went in the artists’ design briefs for each mural, helping choose the wall, interviewing the artists, meeting with the artist to discuss ideas, and approving the final design.

Artist ‘speed dating’ style interviews

The 11 short-listed artists were interviewed about each of the 8 mural topics by the community groups who nominated the topic, and by Off the Wall as a group too.  The artists had all prepared a sketch proposal for the High Street mural to give the groups something similar for comparison.  

Each mural group’s ‘Top 3’ preferences were gathered and each artist’s ‘Top 3’ were collected which enabled us to match artists to murals.  

Anna Starling at artist interview day with Saltburn group

Steve Des Landes with Highland Gathering groups at artist interview day

We held “speed dating” style interviews so that the local community groups could be involved in selecting the artists.  We set up Invergordon Off the Wall as a mural group too for their Seaforths mural idea (funding still to be found) and also to give them a chance to meet every artist since they would be the final decision-making panel once all the groups preferences were in.

Each community mural group nominated representatives to be their interviewing panel for the day (3-4 members) and they sat in groups around the Invergordon Social Club hall.  The Project Officer met with each group beforehand to discuss questions and what they were looking for in their mural artist.

Each artist was asked to prepare a sketch proposal for the High Street mural to give the groups something similar to compare against.   They all had 15 minutes with each group to present their proposal and to answer questions.

Each mural group had score cards for each artist to help them to remember each interview and candidate by the end of the day.  At the end of the day, each group then discussed the candidates and completed a final form indicating their Top 3 preferences from the 11 candidates.

Each artist was also given the opportunity to complete a form indicating which murals they were most interested in, if selected, and which they would not want to be considered for.

Both these forms were designed to help the committee make the final allocations and to avoid matching groups and artists in combinations making either unhappy.

The committee agreed that in order to maintain the diversity of artistic styles that no artist would be given more than 3 commissions.  This was to accommodate the fact that several artists were very clearly the most popular with the community groups but also to allow variety.

Here are a few of their presentations

Here you can see their proposals for the High Street mural.  Although Steve offered an option for Saltburn instead.  It is fun to see their different styles like this and ironic that Steve ended up with the High Street mural brief!

Anna Starling’s drawing

Anna's ideas for High St mural at interviews

Steve Des Landes Drawing of Saltburn’s Past ideas

Steve's ideas for Saltburn mural at interviews

Tracey Shough’s drawing

Tracey's High St ideas for interviews

Visit The Way We Were mural page to find out how the High Street topic actually turned out!

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.

Preparing the walls

Local surveyors, Torrance Partnership, carried out the wall surveys for a charity fee to cover insurance.

The local fire brigade gave us use of their cherry picker to reach the higher sections of the walls.

The second stage is for a professional builder to apply a screed coating to the walls – a standard mixture of sand and cement – to create a smooth surface.  A scratch coat is applied and allowed to settle and then the second smooth coat.

Once the screeding has settled, a base coat of white paint is applied to create the blank canvas for the artist to paint.

When the artists were on site, appropriate scaffolding was set up and health and safety measures put in place with advice from the Highland Council Health and Safety team.

Surveying the Century of Sport wall

Wall surveys - A Century of Sport wall - smaller file size


Screeding the Museum walls

Wall prep - screeding - at the Museum

Artists’ Residencies

There were 4 artist’s residencies each year in 2006 and 2007.  Plus extra funding was secured for The Long Good-bye at Invergordon Station adding an extra one in 2007.

All the artists stayed in the town with members of the Invergordon Off the Wall committee as a gift in kind contribution to the project funding.

The artists were usually in town for between 4 to 8 weeks depending on the scale of the mural they were painting and the weather!  Although generally we were lucky with the latter.

Extra projects and creativity!

We found funding for some additional projects during the 8 mural phase and just after it which helped us to launch the Invergordon Mural Trail in style!

  • An extra mural, a film documentary and a festival!

    The Long Goodbye (2007)

    Highland 2007 funding enabled Invergordon Off the Wall to see the mural topic they chose  – remembering the Seaforth Highlanders – being painted at Invergordon Station.  A series of murals along the station and platform walls provides an impressive welcome to all arriving at the station.  Find out more here.

    Invergordon Off the Wall On the Map (2007)

    Further funding was found to for a film made by local young people about the making of the Invergordon Mural trail.  A collection of local funders enabled them to learn new skills through hands-on film production and documentary film-making, trained by Phoenix VP.  

    Extracts of this film can be found on our guided tour app allowing the people involved in making the mural trail to tell you how it came about!

    The film project was funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Ross and Cromarty Partnership, CRF, Talisman Oil, and Invergordon Off the Wall.

    Invergordon’s Fleet Festival

    The festival was part of the Highland 2007 events and a celebration of the completion of this phase of the mural trail.  Memories of the Royal Marine Band marching along Invergordon High Street when the Royal Navy were in port, inspired the event.

    The festival was funded by Highland 2007, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Highland Council Tourism Development Fund, Scottish Natural Heritage, CED, and £9,141 sponsorship by local businesses and the community.

    These additional project activities also included an estimated £12,480 of Gift in Kind.


    Funding was also applied for for the Evolution project which is a collection of 3 public artworks funded by Creative Scotland and the Highland Culture Programme with additional local support from Isleburn, Robertson and Port Services.  

Invergordon Station Planters 

Whilst co-ordinating the development of The Long Goodbye mural at Invergordon Station, some Off the Wall members got together with other local community groups to build and create some planters at the station.  The planters were created during 2007 and 2008.

The Station before community improvements

Images of the station before improvements made by the local community

The three completed station planters on the north platform

3 planters at the station

Station planters work group

Station planters work group 2007

The Station Planters in full bloom 2008

Collage of the station planters 2008