Thurso's Marmite Mural: Washing off the dust

Tollemache House Thurso Caithness HIE

Home to HIE (Highlands & Islands Enterprise) offices in the centre of Thurso, Tollemache House rarely goes unnoticed due to its huge red, black, grey and white wall mural.  Despite its 'marmite effect' locally, encouraging continual clashes of love and hate, Thurso's boldest gable end has survived an impressive 64 years since being designed by Polish artist, Caziel, for the Atomic Energy Commission.

Caziel attended world renowned art schools in Warsaw and Paris where he studied and worked closely with Pablo Picasso.  He later married Catherine Sinclair, daughter of Sir Archibald Sinclair (Viscount Thurso), and was commissioned to create the design for Tollemache House in 1963.

A few weeks ago, I noticed local painters giving the wall a fresh lick of paint and couldn't help but feel grateful.  After all, radical pieces like these inspire us to question the norm, to look beyond the mundane.  With Caithness' uncertain future and 'passing through' reputation, the county needs all the confidence and avant-garde it can get.  I feel Caziel's artwork reflects this message well.

Through my eyes, the bright and bold mural at Tollemache House also illustrates the 'buzz' felt about town during the 1960s when vision and innovation were fast becoming a reality.  Looking as fresh as ever today, Caziel's design still speaks loudly to Thurso even though the 'buzz' seems a little quieter.

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." Pablo Picasso