‘Glean’ is an exhibition at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh celebrating 14 women photographers and film-makers working in Scotland during the first half of the 20th century.
The exhibition is wonderful, so it’s great to see that The Guardian has created a gallery/photo essay on its website showcasing some of the women, notably Margaret Fay Shaw, MEM (Mary Ethel Muir) Donaldson, Dr. Beatrice Garvie, Margaret Watkins, Johanna Kissling and Jenny Gilbertson.
Another of the featured photographers is Christina Broom (1862-1939) whose work I had come across in my research into early press photography.
Born in Edinburgh, she is best-known for her images portraying the suffragettes.
But what is best about projects such as ‘Glean’ is that you become aware of photographers and artists of whom you had not heard or knew very little.
The result is that word spreads and other people contribute their knowledge of a particular figure who has been forgotten or relegated to the margins of photo history.
For example, a recent online ‘Zoom’ talk about Violet Banks, another of the featured women presented by the ‘Glean’ exhibition curator Jenny Brownrigg, produced an amazing moment.
In passing, Jenny mentioned that she thought Violet Banks had produced ceramics during her career.
Much to everyone’s delight, one of the attendees in Brussels then produced a piece of Banks’ ceramic work and displayed it on camera.
Then last night, my wife who is a knitting enthusiast booked into a talk by the writer Esther Rutter about ‘how the fishing communities of Scotland’s west coast influenced knitting traditions across the world.’
And there among her illustrations of the links between knitting and the sea were photographs of fishing communities taken by several of the women featured in ‘Glean.’
If any of this floats your boat, there is a further free online talk on Thursday 9th March titled ‘Margaret Fay Shaw, Hebridean Female Crofters in Sharp Focus.’
See you there!
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