Ménage à trois

26 Mar

A  Ménage à trois, perhaps not , but  three public statues of women in Edinburgh,  what wonderful news.

Women at last have outnumbered the statues of dogs: Greyfriars Bobby and ” Bum” in Princes Street Gardens, but still have a long way to go to catch up with the 198  men.

It’s not that I have anything against the ever loyal policeman’s canine friend, Greyfriars Bobby; or  ” Bum” who was donated to Edinburgh in 2008, by its twinned  city San Diego, in California.

The dog arrived in San Diego, as a stray in the late 19th century. He  lost a leg while rescuing a puppy on a railway track. He developed a taste for alcohol after hanging around bars but was nursed back to health and spent much of his time giving rides to children.  A  shaggy dog story worthy of the re-telling.   However what about all the women of Scottish history, where are their stories being  commemorated?

Dr. Helen Crummy, whose statue was unveiled last week outside the East Neighbourhood  Centre, joins Queen Victoria at the bottom of Leith Walk,  and the statue of  a  “Woman and Child” on Sheraton Square, Lothian Road, Edinburgh, by sculptor Anne Davidson, which honours all those killed or imprisoned for their stand against apartheid.

Statue number three,  Dr Helen Crummy, ( 1920 – 2011) ,celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Craigmillar Festival Arts Festival .

 

 

Edinburg's Third Statue of a Woman

Third Statue of a Woman

 

Helen Crummy  founded the venture as a direct response to her son being refused violin lessons at his school.  In  her book: “Let the People Sing”, first published in 1992, a dedication from an unknown source reads:

 “We can either react in fear or anger to the state of our world thus becoming part of the problem. Or respond creatively and become part of the solution”

The worldwide recognition of her innovative approach to community arts and community action is testimony  to those words.

Her obituary in The Scotsman  (20th July 2011) reflects her stature as a woman worthy of  respect and admiration:

” Helen Crummy enjoyed a good story, and recollected how, after she had managed to persuade Yehudi Menuhin to give a recital to a local audience, it had been so astonished by the brilliance of his performance that there had been a moment’s stunned hesitation between the final note, and the applause – a moment in which one voice was heard to say: “That wis no bad, eh?”

It is a tribute which this modest, yet determined, woman would probably have chosen for herself, and the very least that could be said of her life, with all its quiet virtuosity. That it was no bad, eh?”

 

 The sculpture, by Edinburgh based, Tim Chalk, shows Dr. Crummy handing her son a violin bow. with an inscription on the  door taken from the words of the Craigmillar Musical:

“History will be made when the people play their part.”

Another person, whom I met recently,  playing   his  part in bringing  history to the people of Scotland, is Dr. Jamie Reid Baxter, an Honorary Research Fellow of Glasgow University.  Thanks to Jamie’s  single minded determination, Germaine Greer will be coming to Edinburgh in June to celebrate the first Scotswoman to see her work in print, Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross, who published her min-epic Ane Godlie Dreame in 1603.

In a free event open to the public at 11.30a.m. on 21st. June, Professor Greer will unveil an inscribed flagstone commemorating Elizabeth Melville (c.1578 – c.1640) in Edinburgh’s Makars’ Court in front of the Scottish Writers Museum, EH1 2PA.

The inscription will read:

Though tyrants threat, thought Lyons rage and rore, Defy them all, and feare not to win out”

Best know by most of us for:  “The Female Eunuch”  (1970) and “The Whole Woman”  (1999),  Germaine Greer was the first women ever to write about Elizabeth Melville in:  “Kissing the Road: An Anthology of 17th Century Women’s Verse.”

Under the circumstances,it would have been just plain rude of her to turn down Jamie’s invitation to visit Edinburgh this summer. I sure the DRB’s will be out in force to join in the celebrations on Midsummer’s Day.

 

 

Germaine Greer to visit Edinburgh in June

Germaine Greer to visit Edinburgh

 

Look out for more information in future blogs about the event which will include an afternoon Symposium, chaired by Dr Baxter, the editor of  Melville’s work,  and a evening concert in the  High Kirk of St. Giles, entitled: “Ane Mid-simmar Nichts Godlie Dreame” , featuring all five of Melville’s songs.

As a campaigning DRB group member, keen to address the imbalance, male to female, of  commemorative artifacts in Edinburgh, I am not surprised that,of the currently features  37 inscribed flagstones at Makers’ Court, all but six of them bear quotations from works of male writers, ranging from the 14th to 21st. centuries.

As Jamie pointed out to me, none of the six women represented published any work before 1900, which gives the bizarre impression that Scotswomen had nothing to say before  1900.

Oh dear me, the Damned Rebel Bitches Scottish Women’s History group, certainly sing a different tune.  One of our four Quaker Women, Eliza Wigham published book , a copy of which can be viewed in the National Libraryof Scotland. For more information about the women download our: “Women on the Platform” booklet from the sidebar of this blog.

Over the Easter break  I’m going to take it upon myself to imagine that I have won the lottery, therefore able to adorn this city with memories of the unsung heroines of Scottish history.

I’ll start with the flagstones, giving myself the opportunity to enjoy the writings of  19 century female authors.  Whilst looking for suitable quotes I’d like to think about what our four women  might have been reading when they were not on the campaign trail.

Readers if you have any ideas please leave a comment on this blog. Thanks .

 

A  quote for Mothers Day on Sunday 30th March:

“All women become like their mothers.  That is their tragedy.  No man does.  That’s his”.  ~Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895

If you are looking for a gift for your mother/yourself/ look no further than the recently published 21 Revolutions. New writing and prints inspired by the collection at Glasgow Women’s Library.  (available in Waterstones Book Shop on George Street in Edinburgh,or directly from GWL.

 

Happy Birthday Glasgow Women's Library

 

There is an exhibition at the headquarters of Creative Scotland in Waterloo Place in Edinburgh where a number of the artworks are on display until 11th April.

21 Revolutions brings together a remarkable group of 21 women writers and 21 women artists, marking Glasgow Women’s Library’s first two decades.

Dr. Adele Patrick, the GWL’s  Lifelong Learning and Creative Development Manager, and Editor of the book says:

“Our aim with the 21 Revolution project,culminating in this publication,was to open up to the broadest audiences the gems from our library, archive and museum collection, interpreted through the lense of 42 of some of the most important women creatives working in Scotland today.”

Enjoy Mother’s Day by joining those 42 women, read and be inspired.

 

 

 

 

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