Francis Curran

4th November 2011 at 00:00
The artist who captured a future James Bond on canvas was also an inspiring teacher

Artist Francis Curran, who has died at the age of 82, was the antithesis of the idea that those who can't, teach. He was one of an inspiring breed of tutors who remained passionate painters throughout their teaching career: a man who instilled that enthusiasm in his students, instinctively adopting a trademark style for demonstrating the craft rather than theorising.

For a while he also juggled another career in tandem with his teaching - as licensee of his father's pub.

Always known as Frank, he attended Dalkeith High, leaving at 17 to go to Edinburgh College of Art where his contemporaries included Elizabeth Blackadder.

He won an Andrew Carnegie travelling scholarship in 1952 and spent a year as a postgraduate in France and Spain. The work that earned him the scholarship was a portrait of Edinburgh milkman, life model and future James Bond, Sean Connery.

He followed his travels with teacher training at Moray House in Edinburgh and a short spell in primary schools, once teaching in 14 primaries in 10 days.

He spent a couple of years at Loanhead Junior Secondary before moving to his old school, Dalkeith High, where he taught for another two years.

His next post was as principal teacher of art at Currie High in Edinburgh, where he remained for the following 27 years before taking early retirement at 60, in 1989, to pursue a successful second career as a full- time artist.

While at Currie High he also taught rugby: one of his colleagues then was PE teacher Richie Dixon, now the Georgia rugby coach.

In the intervening years his father had bought the Artisan Bar in Edinburgh's London Road. It was later run by Curran's brother, Tommy, and when he died, in the late 1960s, Curran took over the running of the family business.

He became the licensee of the pub, near Easter Road and a favourite haunt of Hibs fans, for seven or eight years, combining work there in the evening with his day job as principal art teacher.

He married his school sweetheart Rita, with whom he had three children, and took every opportunity to paint, particularly on Tiree, where the couple had a second home just 20 yards from the beach.

He exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy, the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts and the Mall Galleries in London as well as staging several solo exhibitions at the Torrance Gallery in Edinburgh. He also has works in private and public collections and can take credit for inspiring numerous students, including the contemporary Scottish artist Moyna Flannigan, to follow in his footsteps.

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