I’ve been working on a new project called The Grantidote. Last week it took me west, to where I come from.
The Grantidote’s centering women, pausing to understand how a woman’s wholeness is made up of fragments big and small, some chosen, others delivered by circumstance.
The Grantidote’s about acknowledging the marks women leave on our world. I believe by fully registering women’s impact we begin to rectify an error that’s made how we organise, experience and understand humanity feel ill-fitting and wrong.
Toxic masculinity needn’t control the whole narrative, after all.
Hop on my hashtags too, won’t you? #52and40, Instagram and #TheGrantidote
My daughter tells me she learned at school there hasn’t been a May as dry as this in Scotland since before I was born in 1976.
It seems we picked a lucky time for digging a new border in the garden and moving plants around to fill it up. It’s become habit, to go out between writing and running about and be amongst plants growing right before my eyes, echoing the kids growing and changing too. This time of the teenager seems the busiest of family life yet – and possibly the most rewarding.
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A friend took me to The Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh recently. As an art academic and fellow ardent avoider of bullshit, she’s a joy to exhibition with; nips off at speed, buzzing back intermittently with jewels of information about whatever’s caught my eye; non-plussed about my mistaking statues of all short-haired blokes holding scrolls for another Burns.
As well as my pal, my favourites on the day were Jessica Harrison’s Painted Ladies; the movement in those skirts whisked me back to making an ornament of my Granny’s dance on a windowsill.
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A treasure trail of research lead me to Jessie Kesson and now I can’t believe her name wasn’t always part of my frame of Scots reference.
Jessie was born in 1916 Inverness to a loving single mum who worked as a prostitute and knew challenge intimately. At eight, Jessie was relocated to a children’s home in Aberdeenshire and denied further education because of her background. By the end of her life in 1994, Jessie was a London novelist, playwright and producer of Woman’s Hour.
The bits in-between? She told her stories.
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I’ve wondered who this guy is a lot.
Turns out he’s Everyman. He’s Joe Public, apparently, the work of German artist Stephan Balkenhol.
There are more women than men in Edinburgh (and Scotland). How about a sculpture of the city’s Everywoman, instead? Or perhaps alongside?
According to population data, she’d be between 16 and 29, living in a flat with a council-tax banding between A and C and as likely to be single as she would to be married. Her life expectancy would be longer than Joe’s, too.
So where is she?
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Things I didn’t know last month;
- There are jellyfish all round the coast of Denmark – my husband got stung every other summer as a kid playing in the viking sea.
- The Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art was originally built as a mansion for William Cunninghame in 1778, for £10,000. Cunninghame was a Tobacco Lord who benefited hugely from trade winds, the hideousness of the triangular slave trade and the connections of his prosperous merchant family.
- For the worse or better, it only takes two people to start a movement.
Read more about #52and40 here.
I’m dreaming of a non-line Christmas
Just like the ones we used to know
Where purses jingle
And footsteps mingle
And we all go shopping in the snow.
I’m also dreaming of a socio-political re-org for Scotland which ejects a Daily Mail state of mind for the rest of time. And a plan for my big writing project more cohesive than, ‘yes, I might need to change the whole thing again. Hmmmm.’
Clarity will come. Meantime, the thing to fill the void with is art, air, light and laughter. And non-line shopping.
More info on #52and40 here.