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Current Exhibition & Events

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Tidal Waters

Highlights from our Collections

3rd December 2022 – 25th  February 2023

(c) Barbara Rae RA; Stone Pier, SAC Bequest

Water that alternately rises and falls in a predictable and measurable cycle due to the gravitational attraction of the moon can be described as tidal but in this case the title refers to the myriad ways in which artists have responded to the the constant and unending rhythms of the sea. We are all aware of the fragility of the environment these days, and the seemingly timeless motions of earth, sea and sky which we unthinkingly took for granted, are changing in new and unpredictable ways.  But the sea has always been a source of inspiration for artists who have documented it  – and our relationship with it  – in its many moods and in a seemingly infinite variety of ways from the darkly lowering Stone Pier by Barbara Rae to the brightness of a summer morning on the Dornoch Firth by Alex Main; from Frances Pelly’s dreaming Moon, Fish, Boat and Liz Ogilvie’s serene Primal Breath of the Sea  to the seaside parasols of Alan Cowie’s  Holiday Sharks.  James Castle’s more ominous  Upturned Boat  suggests the sea in a darker mood whilst Valeries Pragnell’s otherworldly Spirit Boat in willow contains offerings to the afterlife but also alludes to the beauty of the construction of seagoing vessels.

The exhibition, drawn from public and private collections, features many important Scottish artists  of the last half-century, including Pat Semple and Dorothy Stirling, many with links to the north,  all  inspired by the marine environment of Scotland.



Our Plastic Ocean

Mandy Barker

22nd October – 26th November 2022

Our Plastic Ocean, by international award-winning photographer Mandy Barker, addresses the current global crisis of marine plastic pollution.  Barker collects debris from shorelines across the world and transforms them into powerful and captivating images.  The exhibition is the first major touring retrospective of her work.  At first glance, Barker’s images are reminiscent of sea creatures and corals suspended in a dark void beneath the sea, but closer inspection reveals a more disturbing reality.  From footballs to fishing nets, cotton-buds to coffee-cup lids, Barker highlights the incongruous plastic items now ubiquitous in our seas.  From accompanying scientists on an expedition from Hawaii to Japan, tracing the debris of the 2011 Tsunami, to a voyage on board Greenpeace’s Beluga II to the Inner Hebrides, Mandy Barker has followed a trail of plastic pollution across the globe.  The images resulting from these expeditions have become some of the most recognisable visual commentary on marine plastic pollution.
An Impressions Gallery touring exhibition curated by Angela Sheard.

Image: Transform from Hong Kong Soup
1826 Ingredients – Recovered toys, action heroes and transformers.
© Mandy Barker, courtesy Impressions Gallery

Health, Wealth and Happiness

2nd July –  13th August 2022

Nurse Flora Ferguson  – first motorised District Nurse in region,  1926, v2 Jack Lumsden Collection, Highland Archive Service

Health, Wealth and Happiness explores the fascinating subject of healthcare in the Highlands.

The exhibition examines both the past and present of health and wellbeing – from poorhouses and traditional remedies to the Covid-19 pandemic and modern medicine – and the unique challenges of providing medical assistance in a vast, rural landscape. This is an exciting opportunity to explore a subject of special significance to the region. Just one of many areas highlighted is the Highlands and Islands Medical Service (HIMS). Launched in 1913 as the world’s first integrated public health service, HIMS is recognised today as a forerunner of the NHS. The exhibition will feature objects and artworks from the museum’s own collection, as well as items on loan from individuals and other museums across the region.

The project was developed by the collections team at Inverness Museum and funded by a Covid-19 Museum Development Fund grant from Museums Galleries Scotland. The exhibition, the first to be curated by collections team at Inverness Museum in over a decade, is showing concurrently at the Thurso Gallery and the North Coast Visitor Centre.

Well Wishes

Well Wishes is a mindful craft activity based on the tradition of healing ‘Clootie Wells’.

Through our postal project, your ‘Well Wish’ will join others from across the Highlands in our Health, Wealth and Happiness exhibition.  We will then compost the wishes, reflecting the tying of cloths at healing wells – decay of the fabric represents fulfilment of the wish.

Our Well Wishes tree at the North Coast Visitor Centre is laden with leaves from across Highland. Thank you to those who have participated, and if you haven’t there is still time.

You can visit the North Coast Visitor Centre or the Thurso Gallery and make your wish during opening hours or if you are unable to visit we have a limited number of packs available to post – if you would like some for yourself, a school, care setting or community group in Highland, please contact [email protected]

You can return completed leaves to us or your local High Life Highland Library, and they will be returned us to add to our display.   At the end of the exhibition the wishes will be composted, with the decay of the fabric representing fulfilment of the wish.






Susie Reade

30th April – 25th June 2022

The paintings in this exhibition are inspired by a treacherous journey made by a young woman during the winter of 1944. Aged only twenty-four, Lavinia Ponsonby was instructed by the Ministry of Information in London to travel to work in the British Embassy in Moscow. The usual travel routes were closed because much of Europe was under German Occupation so the only way to get to Moscow was by merchant ship in an Arctic convoy (numbered JW58) which assembled in Loch Ewe, west of Ullapool.

Lavinia was one of the first three women to embark on the voyage, described by Sir Winston Churchill as  ‘the worst journey in the world.’  The ships sailed north into the Arctic Circle and finally crunched through the ice to dock in Archangel in northern Russia. From thence Lavinia boarded a train to travel 700 miles south to Moscow.

Mercifully Lavinia survived. She was the mother of the artist Susie Reade.

Seventy-five years later, informed by her mother’s diary, Susie followed in her mother’s footsteps from Scotland to Moscow. She researched the journey by drawing in museums and searching archives in Russia and Britain. Despite in-depth research we still do not know the nature of Lavinia’s work. Excerpts from Lavinia’s diary accompany each group of paintings in this exhibition.

Image: Susie Reade, Unloading onto the Ice

Susurrus – the joy of small things

Sculptures by Lar MacGregor

12th March   – 23rd April 2022

Susurrus is a gentle stroll through the artist’s personal journey with dementia, loss and separation expressed through a series of organic and abstracted sculptures.  As children we play in swathes of leaves, free of the detritus that comes with age.  The works in this exhibition attempt to capture that playfulness while exploring the shared experiences that have come to dominate our lives in a time of Covid-19.

Image : Lar MacGregor, Today we walk in shadow.


Frances Scott


24th January – 5th March 2022

The ‘Undertow’ series is an evolving body of work which explores the changing relationship between an islander and her home, as Frances Scott walks the coastlines of the Orkney archipelago. Named after the endless pull of the sea, ‘Undertow’ echoes the rhythm and repetition of the waves, seasons, and the experience of walking itself. Recording each section of coastline through photographs and hand-written maps, Frances’ work considers the nature of belonging, and how it can be formed anew, by walking the brink where land meets sea.

This new development of the series brings together work made before and after the COVID-19 lockdowns which saw Frances far removed from Orkney, creating a fresh dialogue which acknowledges the pain of distance, the fragility of memory, and the joy of her home islands unfolding once again.

Frances Scott (b. 1991) is a photographic artist from Orkney, currently based in Glasgow.



One Artist’s View of Caithness

An exhibition of textiles by Debbie Lee

13th November – 15th January 2022

When Debbie Lee first started this collection of work, the country was in lockdown, so inspiration was therefore sought locally in  Caithness – her home – often on walks with her dogs and family.  ‘How lucky we were, to have this wonderful scenery to enjoy, especially at that time. It was a joy to look closer at the landscape that is fond to my heart and to make art inspired by it. The exhibition title:  ‘North of the Ord,’  is a term used traditionally to describe this county, which is much loved by its people. The ‘Ord Point,’  is the natural boundary between Caithness and the South on its Eastern Edge.’

The work is created through the collage of fabric and paper, then a layering of translucent fabric and machine stitch is added. It is then cut into to reveal earlier layers and is embellished with hand stitch. The final work is full of colour and pattern and joy of the landscape it depicts.


Image: Debbie Lee, High Route to Morven




The Mysterious Woodturner of Forss

2nd October – 6th November

Rob Christie lives and works on the east coast of Caithness. In his spare time Rob works in his shed, turning or carving vessels from fallen trees around his home or jetsam found on local shores.  He never buys wood, only finds it.

Rob Christie says, ‘In the craft hierarchy, turned wood is the poor relation of pottery, which in turn lies below glass in the pecking order. Turning is the pastime of the bearded set of post retirement men in their sheds. Its my ambition to turn up the dial a bit and make things a bit more muscular. While reluctantly admitting to being a retired man in a shed.

Caithness may not seem like the ideal place for someone working in wood, but in truth, there are ample wooded areas with a diverse species list.  There are also miles of beaches where weather worn logs wash up, stained and altered by their voyages. So, while sourcing the raw material is not necessarily a problem, extraction may be.’




4th September – 25th September

Jo Bentdal

Common Sensibilities

Jo Bentdal is a Norwegian photographer whose work is concerned with the relationship between society’s power structures and our individual development. What shapes us, and what controls us?

Bentdal, In his latest project, has produced a series of portraits of eleven teenage girls who are caught in the same, simple lighting. They confront us with a direct gaze; they stand out as serious and thoughtful individuals although they are also representatives of a collective state of something larger and universally human (Lars Elton) .

The traditional format and formal pose reference elements from Renaissance portraiture. But it is not older, privileged men in high-status roles who look at us, but young women with life ahead of them. They look straight at us, with authority. Can they trust us?

Sean Patrick Campbell

Scottish photographer Campbell writes of his practice: “I am a photographer and artist based in Glasgow, Scotland. Through my lens-based practice I seek to interrogate the inherent symbiosis between landscape and mythology – personal, cultural, political. Rituals, including those of the analogue photographic process, the invocations of moving image, incantations of atomic words and the power of uncanny objects form the interlocking parts of this inquiry into the physical and psychic structures that surround us.

As we hurtle through the Anthropocene, many of the dominant cultural myths are exposed as flawed, inaccurate, incomplete. How do we write the collective story of our times while desperately writing our own narrative? These are the propositions that drive my working practice.”  https://spcampbellart.cargo.site

Lucy Woodley

Ultima  Thule

The farthest point; the limit of any journey

24th July – 28 August

An exhibition of sculpture on the theme of migration.

War, violence and persecution has left 3.5% of humankind as refugees, displaced or seeking asylum – that was 272 million people in 2020.  Lucy Woodley was so moved by their plight, the desperation and hope which impelled them into making such life changing, often harrowing  journeys that she embarked on a series of sculptures attempting to tell the timeless story, spanning centuries of migration. The journey is depicted as a hopeful adventure to new shores and a better future or a desperate passage undertaken to anywhere to escape the place of departure, left with regret, often driven by fear. Three elements appear throughout the works which give a sense of continuity – a boat, three fish and a black bird. The Boat symbolises the journey; the Fish, an ancient religious symbol, represents faith or hope; the Bird, although sometimes seen as an ominous presence, suggests destiny or destination.

The work explores attempted journeys, some futile with an abandoned boat, deserted and empty, some successful with the boat elevated to an object of reverence and redemption.

Image 1: Lucy Woodley, Hostile Landing, silver, bone, reclaimed barrel stave, resin-coated sea buckthorn

Image 2: Lucy Woodley, Hidden, silver, steel wire, reclaimed wood


Jenny Mackenzie Ross

Heaven and Earth


12th June – 14th July

Jenny Mackenzie Ross’ exhibition is a mixture of sculpture and studio pottery.  The sculpture is process-driven and is about the relationship between geology and organic forms.  By contrast, she enjoys the tradition and functionality of studio pottery. Both sculpture and pottery are wood fired and soda glazed, imparting a depth and variance of colour across the surface of the pieces.

She has a studio, Northshore Pottery, near Latheron in a repurposed Oatmeal Mill which was saved from dereliction in the 1990s.

Images: Jenny Mackenzie Ross

Caithness Artists

A Selection of Work from the Society of Caithness Artists


27th May – 9th June 2021

The Society of Caithness Artists has over 100 members and this exhibition showcases just a few of the artists’ works.  Covid restrictions have affected the showing of the work with all exhibitions being online this past year and this is the first physical exhibition since the lockdown, with HLH and SCA in partnership. The work ranges from local scenes to representations of thought provoking subjects in such diverse media as glass, oils, pen, watercolour and fibre.

Artists represented are : Don Clarke, Lisa Critchley, Anne Grain, Penny Irvine,  Elizabeth Lay, Sheelagh Paterson, Aileen Paton, Ian Pearson, Jan Picking  and Debbie Prentice.

Image: Don Clarke,  Every Shadow Passes – Ovid (detail).



PUNCTUATE: An unsettled practice

until  22nd May 2021

This exhibition marks Jim Mooney’s return to painting after many years working in other media and engages in a visual dialogue with the radical thinking of French philosopher and psychoanalyst Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. The work focuses on aspects of the body and desire, in particular the virtual bodies produced by Deleuze’s articulation of a Body without Organs and painting as hallucination.

Mooney states: ‘Painting is most imperatively and essentially, an experimental space, where orthodoxies can be challenged and critically evaluated. Establishing a space where my own habits of thought, my conceptualisations and practical procedures, are susceptible to interruption, contestation and reconfiguration.’

Read the exhibition publication here

Image: BwO#2, Jim Mooney, courtesy of the artist. #PUNCTUATE



Thurso Camera Club – 60th Anniversary Exhibition

8th February – 6th March 2020

The most  northerly photographic club in mainland Britain, Thurso Camera Club is a member of the Scottish Photographic Federation and was founded in the 1950s. This exhibition celebrates the wonderful variety of photography by its members over the last 60 years.



Nordic by Nature: modern design and prints

A British Museum touring exhibition

16th November 2019 – 1 February 2020

Aukusti Tuhka (1895 – 1973), Aurora borealis, 1917, woodcut print © The Trustees of the British Museum. Reproduced by permission of the artist.

Artists and designers have long been inspired by the varied and dramatic landscapes of the Nordic countries, the exhibition explores how nature and landscape is at the heart of Finnish, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian art and design.

Natural spectacles, from the bewitching aurora borealis to the white nights of the frozen north, as well as local materials like birch wood, have contributed to a distinctly Nordic aesthetic.

Nordic by nature: modern design and prints uses the British Museum’s collection to look at how Finnish, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian artists and designers have created distinctive objects and imagery that are rooted in the culture, traditions and industries of those nations and often embody national pride.

44 remarkable British Museum objects and works on paper will illustrate how these artists and designers have been drawn to common themes. Exhibition highlights include pioneering pieces by one of the leading figures in Finnish design, glassmaker Tapio Wirkkala (1915-1985), which resemble melting, cracked or carved ice and are shown against prints of stark icy landscapes.

Visitors will also see examples by Finnish basket maker, Markku Kosonen (1945- 2010). These works in birch bark brilliantly adapt traditional forms to create modern works of art and are displayed alongside traditional plaited birch bark bags, still made today as expressions of cultural and national identity.

Additionally, the exhibition brings together a range of Swedish prints, ceramics, and glass works from Småland, which is known as the Kingdom of Crystal. On display will be experimental and minimalist works from Denmark, including Erik Magnussen’s (1940-2014) revolutionary table wares of the 1960s and Per Kirkeby’s (1938-2018) light-hearted print, Telephone rings (1964).

With the support of the Dorset Foundation in memory of Harry M Weinrebe, the Thurso Gallery is one of only 4 UK venues to which the exhibition will travel.