Artist Celie Byrne marks 150th anniversary of Fife library with new mural

Avid readers who have missed using their historic library during lockdown will receive an exuberant welcome after it re-opened this week.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 9:57 am
Part of the new mural.

Greeting visitors to Cupar’s landmark Duncan Institute is a newly completed mural, spanning three floors, that is vibrant, colourful and fun.

Acclaimed artist Celie Byrne has created a fresh new look for the inside entrance that celebrates the joy of reading and the generosity of the building’s benefactor.

The giant mural features a painted red ribbon, adorned with stars, that mimics the course of the River Eden, which flows through the town. The ribbon leads visitors upstairs to the reference and local studies room.

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Inscribed in the ribbon is a quote by the Turkish writer Mehmet Murat Ildan: “The bright stars of the skies are far to touch; but there are other shiny stars that you can touch easily: the books of the libraries.”

Visitors can also put a face to the name of the person who brought the building into being. Beside the door to the main library, Celie has created a striking portrait of Miss Elizabeth Duncan, whose bequest funded the Institute 150 years ago.

Generations of local people have enjoyed Miss Duncan’s legacy since the building’s official opening on December 13, 1870.

Celie’s inspiration was an oil painting of Miss Duncan that is normally kept in storage. The mural also features a quote from the benefactor’s will and a detail from one of the library's stained glass windows.

For Celie, who predominantly paints portraits but also produces large-scale murals, it has been a labour of love. The Kelty artist has known the building for many years as her uncle, Robert Simpson, was a science teacher at Cupar’s Bell Baxter High School.

“I’ve really enjoyed working on the project,” said Celie.

“I’m pleased with all of the mural’s different elements. Painting Miss Duncan’s portrait allowed me to capture the essence of someone who was dedicated to the wellbeing of her community.”

OnFife Libraries facilities & services supervisor Susan Allan is delighted that a new look entrance will welcome visitors when the building reopens after lockdown.

Said Susan: “We’re so pleased with the joyful work that Celie has created.”