Academy pupils use skills to turn detectives

Feat of clay: Pictured with the relief are (from left) rector John Cavanagh; Rebecca Cadona; Peter Allan, head of Expressive and Performing Arts; Kirstin Carnegie; history teacher James Bratt; Blair Henderson; Jasmin Struckmeier; Megan Boyle; Reece Murray; Eilidh Walker; Molly Monroe; Ewan Lewis; Nathan Clifton; Amber Gordon; Simon Needham, school technician; Becky Littlewood and Bruce Pandrich, deputy head teacher.'Contributed photograph
Feat of clay: Pictured with the relief are (from left) rector John Cavanagh; Rebecca Cadona; Peter Allan, head of Expressive and Performing Arts; Kirstin Carnegie; history teacher James Bratt; Blair Henderson; Jasmin Struckmeier; Megan Boyle; Reece Murray; Eilidh Walker; Molly Monroe; Ewan Lewis; Nathan Clifton; Amber Gordon; Simon Needham, school technician; Becky Littlewood and Bruce Pandrich, deputy head teacher.'Contributed photograph

MEMBERS of Montrose Academy’s ceramics club have used their artistic skills to solve one of the school’s mysteries.

The pupils produced a low-relief clay copy of the school’s front elevation after a discussion about the ‘secret’ stairway leading to the building’s iconic golden dome.

At the suggestion of school technician Simon Needham, the youngsters decided that the best way to try to guess the hidden stairway’s location was to make a scale three dimensional model of the old academy buildings.

The long process began last year and although the relief was completed before the summer holidays, it had to undergo a slow drying process to prevent it cracking as it dried. It was finally bisque fired last November, a suitable glaze was produced and the club members glazed the plaque. For added authenticity, the clay version, like the real building, has a 24 carat gold dome.

Peter Allan, the school’s head of expressive arts, started the after-school club four years ago with Mr Needham’s help and said that members are encouraged to create their own work and are taught clay construction techniques. Competitions and group projects are also run throughout the year.

He added: “It has not been decided yet where the final piece will go on display but we hope that it will be able to be appreciated by pupils, staff and visitors to the school for many years to come.”

The plaque has now been presented to John Cavanagh, the academy rector and, as a reward for producing such a fine piece of work, the pupils were shown the hidden entrance and given a rare tour of the inside of the school’s dome. But if anyone is hoping for a repeat tour, they will be disappointed as all the pupils were sworn to secrecy about the stairs’ location.