Yesterday Karen and I went into the capital to attend the Scottish Society for Art History Study Day which accompanies the Modern Scottish Women: Painters & Sculptors 1885-1965 Exhibition currently being held at Modern Two. The event was held in the rather swish Hawthorne Lecture Theatre at the Scottish National Gallery on Princes Street and consisted of a full day programme of 9 papers, with plenty of time left over for questions and discussions. There was an outcry on Facebook when we announced we were in Edinburgh, with friends in the city stating ‘Oh that’s what all the noise was this morning…’, and others saying ‘I’ve warned the authorities = Hurricane KaRach has struck land…’. Very rude. You would think we were loud or something.
What a bloody lovely day we had. Edinburgh looked wonderful in the winter sunshine and we managed to snag a last minute table in the Gallery’s restaurant for lunch with our fabulous bunch of friends, we rummaged in the shop and bought books, more books, and our pal Robyne even managed to purchase some ceramics. The exhibition catalogue deserves a mention here, Karen and I couldn’t resist temptation and each bought a copy. It’s a properly glossy and weighty book, with a contextual introduction and biographical information on all of the artists featured in the exhibition, along with a full page colour photo of one of their works.
The packed programme was excellent, as each speaker focused on one of the artists featured in the exhibition. Highlights included Philip Kelleway’s talk on the outrageously glam Zinkeisen Sisters and the world they inhabited, and the passionate way in which Phyllida Shaw shared the story of relative Gertrude Alice Meredith Williams. The most important thing I think all attendees took away from the day was an overwhelming sense of positivity, hearing about the lives of these women and seeing the works of art they produced was truly enlightening. Whilst Senior Curator Alice Strang acknowledged that more research is needed into female artists, she did so with a smile and with excitement. Instead of dwelling on the challenges faced by these women because of their gender, the focus was instead on their own stories and their artistic development. Strang termed it as taking a position of positive neutrality, acknowledging issues, but not letting them overshadow the works or the women who created them. We left the Gallery feeling all fired up, very much in good spirits. I’m assured that all the papers given will be published in the next SSAH Journal, which is free to members, Karen and I will definitely be joining up. All in all a great day out. Now we really have to visit the exhibition!