Artwork painted by Shetland pupils in the 60s displayed at new £56m school

Shetland Islands Council

THREE murals painted by school pupils the 60s and 70s have been installed in Shetland’s new Anderson High School.

The £56 million school was built by Morrison Construction and delivered by hub North Scotland, with it accommodating up to 1,180 pupils.

Two of the paintings, which had been in storage until recently, were painted in 1963 by then sixth year students Ian Coutts and Ian Guthrie.

They had been asked to create something for the previous school’s new assembly hall and dining area that had just been built.

The boys, who both went on to become art teachers, painted the artworks in their spare time with the help of fellow pupils John Mouat, Brian Tait, William Goodlad and David Johnston.

Shetland Islands Council

The mural painted by Ian Coutts depicts a composition showing Shetland history from the Neolithic to the present day, including various images of fishing and crofting. The other, by Ian Guthrie, shows a Shetland regatta scene, painted in a bold colourist style.

Both murals are painted on wooden boards with an overall length of around ten metres, and now hang overlooking the dining area in the new school.

Shetland Islands Council

The third mural now on display in the canteen area of the new school was painted by Martin Emslie, former art teacher at the previous Anderson High School. The mural is around six metres long and shows various scenes of ‘Old Lerwick’ in a collage style, including The Old Tollbooth, Commercial Street and the Market Cross.

It was painted in 1979 and was on display in the Freefield Centre in Lerwick for many years, before it closed in 2013. Martin Emslie has recently helped to restore his original mural before it was installed in the new school.

Valerie Nicolson, head teacher at Anderson High School, said, “I’m so pleased to see these pieces of art in our new school building. They are an important part of the school’s art history and they now have pride of place in a busy part of the school, where they add a lot of colour and character.   

“We have plans to add a new mural to the school in the future to ensure that current pupils can leave their mark too, reflecting Shetland life today.”