Dunrossness Primary Pupils Complete Graffiti Project for Sumburgh Head

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Pupils from Dunrossness Primary School have been taking part in an art project which will see their work preserved in the fabric of the newly restored buildings at Sumburgh Head for future generations to discover.

Pieces of "graffiti" in the form of blocks of wood with written messages were discovered when the sash windows in some of the buildings were removed for restoration during the current construction works. Project Leaders, Shetland Amenity Trust, approached Dunrossness Primary School headteacher, Lesley Simpson with a request for the pupils to provide new artwork on pieces of wood which will be installed when the windows are re-fitted.

Pupils from the primary four classe have created their graffiti pieces and some of them visited the site at Sumburgh Head today to see where their works of art will be installed.

The Lighthouse tower at Sumburgh Head was constructed in 1821, however other buildings such as the engine room and foghorn tower were constructed later, around 1906/07.

Joiners fitting the windows during the construction of these later buildings, left pieces of wood in the pockets, or void spaces, around the windows with handwritten messages. This is common practice in construction and the messages were a mix of comments about the boss being away, bad food from the cook, religious text and even a complaint about a particularly lazy colleague who would not get out of bed, even with a glass of spirit to coax him. There was even a list of all the workers on-site with their job titles and where they came from.

The windows have been restored locally by Shetland Amenity Trust staff, and are now being re-fitted with the new messages from Dunrossness Primary pupils for future generations to find.

When work on the renovation of the nearby Sumburgh Lighthouse got under way recently, pieces of 'graffiti' in the form of blocks of wood with written messages were discovered when the sash windows in some of the buildings were removed for restoration.

The Lighthouse tower at Sumburgh Head was designed by Robert Stevenson and constructed in 1821, but some buildings date from 1906/07. The joiners who fitted the windows in these later buildings left pieces of wood in the void spaces around the windows, inscribed with handwritten messages, a practice that's been common for centuries. The messages were a mix of comments about the boss being away, bad food from the cook, religious text and even a complaint about a particularly lazy colleague who would not get out of bed, even with a glass of spirit to coax him.

Staff from Shetland Amenity Trust, which is leading the renovation on the site, approached the school's head teacher, Lesley Simpson, and the upshot is that the pupils have inscribed their own messages on pieces of wood, which will be installed when the windows are re-fitted.

The £5.4m project, due for completion next year, also involves the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which manages the spectacular bird reserve at Sumburgh Head, and the Northern Lighthouse Board, which still owns and operates the lighthouse tower.