Former art teacher reunited with 20-year-old mural

Art mural
Teachers preparing for their forthcoming drama production at Shirley Intermediate uncovered an old painting of 19th century London tucked behind several other old stage backdrops. PHOTO: Supplied

After two decades of hiding in the dark, an impressive mural has been reunited with its artist.

The mural was found at Shirley Intermediate’s school hall when a group of teachers were preparing a backdrop backstage for their forthcoming drama.

Shirley Intermediate principal Geoff Siave said it was an amazing find but it was too old for staff to know where it came from.

“We posted a picture of the mural on our school Facebook page on June 15. It attracted lots of views, and positive comments – but no certain answers.”

Ex-student Angela Drummond spotted the post on Thursday morning and remembered taking part in an Oliver Twist play at the school more than twenty years ago, aged 11.

She said the mural had been painted by an art teacher at the time, Clark Esplin.

“I remember the art teacher was a very kind, gentle man, really out-going and always made us laugh. I found it amazing that it was still there twenty years later. My son is now 11 years-old in room two at Shirley Intermediate School.”

Esplin went to visit the painting on Thursday.

“It was just wonderful being reunited with it, I had forgotten all about it.”

He said the painting is not of a real scene; he did a quick sketch in his head and started painting from there.
“I wasn’t tall enough to reach the top of the painting so I had to have ladders.”

The mural is three-and-a-half metres tall and eight metres wide.

Several classes from the school have already been to visit the massive painting and Siave plans for all students to have a peek before the mural is moved on.

“Our board will need to decide a future for it, but its size limits the options.”

He said Esplin had been back to the school to touch-up a corner of the mural and sign his name.

By Georgina Campbell for The Press