As part of the ongoing Scottish National Gallery project activities in November 2019, Gráinne Rice, Adult Programme Coordinator and Mara Barth, Project Learning Officer hosted the fifth event in the Friday Night Mixer series.
It was an informal evening of short 15 minute talks after-hours in the Portrait Gallery Café. Invited speakers explored works in the Scottish collection through the lens of the Where Are the Women theme, a title borrowed from our headline speaker, author and activist Sara Sheridan.
Artist and PhD reseacher Caroline Douglas was the first speaker of the evening. In her talk Spectre of a Woman, she explored the birth of early photographic practice in Edinburgh through the lives of two women: the eighteenth-century pioneering chemist Elizabeth Fulhame, and the nineteenth-century subject Elizabeth Johnstone Hall - a Newhaven Fishwife.
Next, we were delighted to welcome back Heroica Theatre Company, writer Anna Carlisle and actor Alexandra Mathie. We had the pleasure of working with them a couple of years ago when NGS hosted the world premiere of their play about Joan Eardley: A Private View in 2017.
They shared a work-in-progress excerpt from a new piece they are developing on the life and work of early twentieth-century Scottish artist and movement pioneer Margaret Morris.
Then we had a demonstration of Margaret Morris Movement to music by Dumfriesshire-based choreographer Sara Lockwood. A trained MMM dancer, she leads classes and workshops with the emphasis on health and well-being through creative dance.
During the break the Friday Night Mixer audience were encouraged to take part in a short creative writing activity, imagining short stories for some of the unknown women in our photography collection.
Next on PhD researchers Karen Mailley-Watt and Rachael Purse AKA The History Girls spoke about portraiture, friendship and representation. They took an irreverent look at original Glasgow Girls: Helen Paxton Brown and her BFF Jessie M King, comparing the artists’ relationship to their own friendship and considered the strength of female networks.
Last up Sara Sheridan’s talk Smell the Rebellion charted her fascination with female history which drove two of her recent projects, REEKperfume which mixes scents to memorialise women and Where are the Women? her imagined guidebook to Scotland, which examines the gendering of our landscape and creatively commemorates over 1000 Scottish women.
Sara recently recorded a version of this talk at home: