Angus Macphee

13th May 2011 at 01:00
The art and design teacher who took pride in his mix of cultures and was an avid piper

Art teacher, writer and piper Angus Macphee, who has died aged 83, was both a wee Glasgow keelie and a Sgitheanach - a youngster raised on Skye - a combination of cultures that coloured his life.

He spent his early childhood in Govan in the 1930s before returning to the family's roots in Skye, but returned to study at Glasgow School of Art in 1948.

His artistic talents had been evident since he was in primary school and he began painting murals and dabbling in calligraphy.

After qualifying, he spent several months as a peripatetic art teacher in Ayrshire, but he always wanted to return to the Highlands. He and Iona married in 1953 and, the following year, moved north when he took a job at Inverness High. He remained there for the rest of his teaching career, retiring in 1986 as head of art and design.

Meanwhile, with a family history steeped in piping, he developed a lifelong interest in the pipes. Latterly, due to ill health, his piping expertise was mainly confined to adjudicating at competitions. But both he and Iona had sung and competed for many years at national and local Mods with the Dingwall Gaelic Choir, which he also tutored in Gaelic.

Five years ago, he fulfilled a lifelong ambition to publish his own volume of compositions of 52 Gaelic songs. The Crunluath Collection, based on bagpipe music including the classical form Ceol-Mor, featured a wide range of songs and was accompanied by a CD on which he also sang.

The collection was dedicated to the memory of his daughter Rona, who died aged four in 1967, and included the Lament for Rona.

In 1995, he had a role in the TV series Hamish Macbeth, alongside Robert Carlyle. He continued to appear on Gaelic television and on radio for the rest of his life, including an edition of the BBC series Eorpa marking Armistice Day last year. It told the story of how, as a teenager beachcombing on the shores of Loch Bracadale in 1945, he and his cousins found the body of a German U-boat sailor, Karl Heinz Golz. The programme chronicled the journey of Karl's great-niece to meet Angus, who had carried the memory of the seaman with him all his life.

He also wrote extensively, producing articles in Gaelic for a national newspaper, as well as various books of verse and a record of his family's roots in Harlosh on Skye.

He corresponded with people all over the world and contributed to the website Our Glasgow Story, in which he described his Govan childhood and his pride in being a Glasgow Gael.

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