PLEASE NOTE, UPDATE JAN 2023: This installation of a man in a bath is currently back on dry land following damage from a storm. The artist has confirmed there are plans to return it to the water but has no set date.
I don’t mean to alarm you, but there’s a man chilling in a bathtub just off the Argyll coast. Not a real man of course, but a life-sized art installation that could be compared to the likes of Edinburgh’s Antony Gormley figures.
But seriously, this is one of the most unusual (and most fun?) things you can stumble across on Scotland’s west coast.
Where is the man in a bathtub?
As you walk along the beach at Loch Melfort Hotel, just a half hour’s drive South of Oban, you’d be forgiven for missing the unusual figure staring back at you from his outdoor soak. As a matter of fact, I’d flown my drone right across him multiple times without ever noticing he was there.
Unfortunately, he’s a tad far from the shoreline to get a good look at the detail to his face. However, for the best view of our hygiene conscious friend, take a walk down to the pebbled beach from the hotel, and then follow the rocks across to the right and out to the natural pier.
Looking over the waters, you’ll see two clusters of rocks poking out from the sea. They sit in front a larger formation that could pass as a tiny island. The man in the bath is resting on the second cluster.
Why is there a sculpture of a man in a bathtub in the Scottish Highlands?
I wish I had some philosophical reason behind this but (from what I’m told) the creator just liked to be inventive with his art (though I’m happy to be corrected). The installation was put in place by Ruaridh Lister Campbell (check his artist website out here), a previous employee of Loch Melfort Hotel, who still lives nearby.
I first learned about his cement figure from hotel staff, who told me that the bathing man was deliberately designed to include Ruaridh’s face – because who doesn’t want a doppelganger destined to sit in an old tub watching the world go by from a rock in the Scottish Highlands?
ARTIST UPDATE: RUARIDH WAS KIND ENOUGH TO MESSAGE ME ON INSTAGRAM
He told, me, “It started as a bit of a joke and then progressed. It was an effort getting it out there.”
On his website, Ruaridh explains, “I try not think about other people when I’m making work. I think most people are more than able to come up with their own interpretations, be it negative or positive”
You can find more of his work over on his artist Instagram account – ruaridhlitstercampbell
I love the personality that this quirky little art piece brings to the area; a real hidden gem to surprise visitors to the Oban area with.
Can I visit Scotland’s unique man in the bath?
Ruaridh’s arty double can’t be reached by foot, even at low tide. He’s too far out and visitors would need some kind of vessel to reach him. I’d hazard a guess that the rocks on which he’s perched sit in relatively shallow waters and won’t allow for easy access. However, I’m also guessing that creative Ruaridh must have used a boat at some stage to get him out there?
Your best option? A drone visit. Even on a still day, my little DJI Mini 2 had a good wobble against the coastal breeze on the way out. I wasn’t able to (confidently) drop it to less that 3 meters without risking a sea-breeze fly off, so I had to settle for views from above. Regardless, you can get close enough to snap a good mug shot (or two).
If you’re looking for more cooky and unique things to see across Scotland, you might like my post, Unusual things to see in Scotoland. You’ll even spot our familiar bath time friend over there!