The Genius of Architecture: Edinburgh
Statue by William Brodie (1815-81), entitled ‘The Genius of Architecture Rewarding at Once the Science and the Practice of Art. This statue shows a crowned woman with two male kilted children at her feet, one presenting her with plans for approval whilst the other kneels to apply mortar to a pillar. It represents the crowning of the theory and practice of Art.
Sculptor William Brodie trained one of the few prominent female Scottish artists and sculptors, Amelia Robertson Hill, whose public commissions include the statue of David Livingstone in Princes Street Gardens and Robert Burns in Dumfries. She also was the main female contributor to the statues on the Scott Monument, contributing three figures thereon. She exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy until 1902, aged 1982.
African Woman and Child: Edinburgh
Anne Ross Davidson, DA (3 February 1937 in Glasgow – 20 December 2008 in Aberdeen) was a Scottish sculptor and artist. Many of her commissioned works are on public view in Scotland and abroad. Her sculpture African Woman and Child was commissioned by the Edinburgh City Council to symbolise the city’s stand against apartheid. The sculpture depicts a black woman standing with a young child in front of the suggestion of a shantytown. It was unveiled on 22 July 1986 by a then-exiled member of the African National Congress, Suganya Chetty, who was then living in Edinburgh. Between 1985 and 1998, she and her husband ran a popular sculpture workshop for the blind, funded by Aberdeen City Council. She taught art to children at schools throughout Aberdeenshire. She was still teaching at three primary schools until she was incapacitated by illness in September 2008. She died three months later, aged 71. She was a member of the Royal British Society of women sculptors, the International Society of Christian Artists and the Society of Catholic Artists.
Helen Crummy MBE: Edinburgh
Helen Crummy (10 May 1920 – 11 July 2011) was the founder and secretary of The Craigmillar Festival Society. Born in Leith as Helen Murray Prentice, in 1931 she was among the first residents of Craigmillar estate, located in one of the poorest areas of Edinburgh. In 1962 she asked the headmaster of the local primary school if her son could be taught to play the violin. He replied by telling her that it took the school all its time to teach these children “all three R’s” Helen and other local mothers started The Craigmillar Festival to showcase the talents of their children, to international acclaim.
Her book, ‘Let The People Sing!’ tells the story of The Craigmillar Festival Society.
Her novel, Whom Dykes Divide, was published in 2008. She also published a number of essays on community arts and music. Her “Comprehensive Plan for Action” (CPA) 1976, is seen as a milestone in Community Planning.
She was awarded an MBE in 1972, and an honorary doctorate by Heriot-Watt University in 1993, and is part of The Edinburgh Women of Achievement trail. She is also in The “Travelling the distance” sculpture at The Scottish Parliament and mentioned in The Bill Douglas statue at Newcraighall Railway station.
Naomi Mitchison CBE: Edinburgh
Naomi Mary Margaret Mitchison, Baroness Mitchison, CBE (née Haldane; 1 November 1897 – 11 January 1999) was a Scottish novelist, poet, feminist and socialist. Often called the doyenne of Scottish literature, she wrote over 90 books in several genres, including historical fiction, science fiction, travel writing and autobiography. Her husband Dick Mitchison’s life peerage in 1964 entitled her to call herself Lady Mitchison, but she never did. She was appointed CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1981.
Naomi Haldane began a career in science and in 1951 published, with her brother, the first demonstration of genetic linkage in mammals before becoming a nurse at the outbreak of the First World War. Her novel The Corn King and the Spring Queen (1931) is seen by some as the best historical novel of the 20th century. Naomi Mitchison was a vocal campaigner for women’s rights, advocating birth control. Her most controversial work, We Have Been Warned (1935), based on her journey to the Soviet Union, explored sexual behaviour including rape and abortion and was rejected by leading publishers and ultimately censored. In 1924 she was on the founding council of the North Kensington Women’s Welfare Centre.
A committed Socialist and anti-fascist, Mitchison travelled to Austria, smuggling documents and left-wing refugees out of the country. She stood unsuccessfully as a Labour Party candidate for the Scottish Universities in 1935, at a time when universities were allowed to elect MPs. She later became attracted to Scottish Nationalism and increasingly wrote on Scottish issues and themes. She acted a spokeswoman for the island communities of Scotland and became active in local government
Mitchison supported a Stop the Seventy Tour rally, aimed at stopping the apartheid South African rugby and cricket tours of Britain, in December 1969. She continued to write well into her nineties and was awarded a CBE in 1981. She died at Carradale on 11 January 1999 at the age of 101.