Arts / From storage to school walls as murals given new lease of life in the Anderson

Photo: SIC

THE ANDERSON High School is looking a little brighter after three murals painted in the 1960s and 1970s were installed after being brought out of storage.

Two of the murals were painted in 1963 by sixth year students Ian Coutts and Ian Guthrie, with assistance from other pupils.

They were asked at the time by art teacher Charlie Forret to create something for the new assembly hall and dining area that had just been built.

The boys painted the murals in their free time, with help from fellow pupils John Mouat, Brian Tait, William Goodlad and David Johnston.

One 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.

Photo: SIC

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.


Both Ian Guthrie and Ian Coutts went on to study art when they left school and became art teachers.

For a while, they both taught at the same school – at George Watson’s College in Edinburgh, where Coutts taught for 30 years before his retirement.

The third mural now on display in the canteen area of the new school was painted by Martin Emslie, former art teacher at the 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.

Photo: SIC

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 recently helped to restore his original mural before it was installed in the new school.

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Anderson High School headteacher Valerie Nicolson 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.”

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