John O’Groats sculpture reflects the power of the sea

THE power of the sea in the Pentland Firth is the subject of a major new public artwork unveiled at John O’Groats.

The power of the sea in the Pentland Firth is the subject of a major new public artwork unveiled at John O'Groats. Picture: PA

Nomadic Boulders aims to capture the tidal races in the strait that separates the Orkney Islands from Caithness in the north of Scotland.

Research shows the forces that swirl around the coast can move boulders the weight of small cars great distances across the seabed.

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The sculpture features boulders of local red sandstone, which were tossed up on a nearby beach after a storm, suspended on three great arcs of bronze.

It has been specially designed to withstand the winds of more than 100mph that can batter the area.

Artists Mathew Dalziel and Louise Scullion said: “We were keen to make work that reflected the interesting dynamic of the area, which is so much more than a famous destination.

“It is a place where geology, biodiversity and history are present in very unique ways.

“We were particularly drawn to the power of the sea, squeezed as it is between the mainland and the Orcadian Skerries; for generations these waters have and continue to represent an awe-inspiring power that can oscillate between a hypnotic temptress and a terrifying and destructive force.”

The work is the latest in a series of artworks supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) as part of a regeneration of the village.

Hilary Budge, from HIE, said: “John O’Groats is a key destination for tourists as well as our local populations and we believe this piece of work themed on the power of the Pentland Firth will provide a fitting focal point to this magnificent site.”

Alongside the sculpture a new piece of music has been composed by Jim Sutherland, artistic director of orchestra La Banda, based on a local legend about a violent whirlpool off the nearest island, Stroma, known locally as The Swelkie.

Mr Sutherland, who grew up in Thurso overlooking the Pentland Firth, said: “I am delighted to have been commissioned to create a new piece of music inspired by this stunning and often treacherous sea which played such an important part in my early life.”