Celebrating Women Creating Scotland!

Blog post by Rebecca Jones (University of Strathclyde)
Twitter: @scotwomencreate and @beckmjones

A mother’s unmistakable and inimitable influence on a daughter’s creative imagination.

The power of therapeutic making.

Women driving community building, and the celebration and recognition of creative women whose contributions have been historically subsumed by those of their male relatives.

On Friday 17thAugust we welcomed 11 speakers to the Women Creating Scotland: Creating for Change Conference at Glasgow Women’s Library. Each speaker presented to us on their own research, experience and practice around women’s creative contributions to Scotland’s history and heritage.

Treated to an array of creative insights, it was wonderful to spend the day in a space brightened and enlivened with banners and pennants brought along by the final speaker of the day, Lindy Richardson. During her presentation, Lindy reflected on her work with the Scottish Prison Service around the UK-wide Processions women’s march on 10th June 2018, and why women’s voices matter, whoever and wherever they are in the world.

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One of the many challenging and captivating pieces from the banner . . .  (Credit: Rebecca Jones)

Kindly opened by Prof. Bruce Peter of the Glasgow School of Art, the day offered a lively and varied exhibition of both academic and practice-based research into women’s contributions to creative art forms. We were particularly excited to see such a broad range of media featured – we heard the stories of work by women both famous and historically overlooked, from media including painting, poetry, prose, music, fashion and film.

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Prof. Bruce Peter of Glasgow School of Art opens the Conference with his paper ‘Margaret Brodie in the Wider Context of Inter-War Female Designers’ (Credit: Karen Mailley-Watt)

Helena Marie Roots shared her research on writer Willa Muir, followed by Claire Robinson’s reflections on Scottish women artists during the Second World War and the Recording Scotland Scheme. Alex Chandler showcased archive footage by Sarah Erulkar, and Shauna McMullan recalled the vibrant writing that emerged from I Gladly Strained My Eyes To Follow You, a project illuminating portraits of women at Pollok House in Glasgow.

Later in the day we heard from Shirley McLauchlan about how her mother’s influences can be traced in her own making with textiles, Winnie Herbstein told the story of women’s community building and challenges to masculine stereotypes in construction, and Casci Ritchie demonstrated how the 1940s and 1950s saw Glasgow women’s fashions influenced by Hollywood.

Mabli Godden highlighted the ways in which women’s creativity has been hidden by attitudes to mental illness, and how the process of creating can be therapeutic and assistive to mental health, followed by Lindy Richardson’s recollections of banner-making in preparation for the 2018 Processions women’s march.

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“Over the course of the day I was delighted to hear a wide range of topics from speakers from varying disciplines. As a bit of an outsider to academia I can get the impending doom of imposter syndrome at these events but I can honestly say that everyone was incredibly open, supportive and encouraging and I felt very relaxed the whole day (which is rare for me!). All speakers conveyed such passion and enthusiasm for their subjects and I left the conference feeling recharged and ready to get back in the books!” 

Casci Ritchie, Independent Fashion Historian and Speaker at the Women Creating Scotland: Creating for Change Conference

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Huge thanks to Lindy Richardson for bringing along this banner for us to admire during the breaks! (Credit: Karen Mailley-Watt, WCS)

In addition to this broad-ranging spectrum of papers, writer, actor and singer-songwriter Gerda Stevenson opened our afternoon session with incredibly moving readings from her poetry collection Quines: Poems in tribute to women of Scotland, and we concluded the day with a relaxed, fun practical hand sewing workshop hosted by Iona Barker of Say It Ain’t Sew, a not for profit organisation delivering hand sewing classes to groups across the UK.

“The richness of variety in both the content of the presentations and methods of delivery were inspiring in themselves.”

Lindy Richardson (University of Edinburgh) Speaker at the Women Creating Scotland: Creating for Change Conference

Our thanks once again to Prof. Bruce Peter, Helena Marie Roots, Claire Robinson, Alex Chandler, Gerda Stevenson, Shauna McMullan, Shirley Mclauchlan, Winnie Herbstein, Casci Ritchie, Mabli Godden, Lindy Richardson and Iona Barker for their contributions to the day, and to everyone who came along and supported this celebration of women’s achievements and contributions in other ways.

We would also like to thank the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) and the University of Glasgow College of Arts for their generous funding of the event.

We are always seeking new guest bloggers! If you have an idea for a blog post or would like to informally discuss writing for the SGSAH blog please get in touch with Brittnee via email at b.leysen.1@research.gla.ac.uk or connect with the blog on Twitter

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