Late last year I was contacted by Chris Turner of Dumbarton, one of 100 women who were chosen to take part in the subject of a sculpture commissioned by the Scottish Executive as a permanent reminder of Scottish Women’s contribution to advancing democracy and improving the lives of women in Scotland. The sculpture was being produced by an artist called Shauna McMullan, who decided that it should take the form of a series of handwritten pieces by these 100 women who would choose a role model as the subject of their piece of writing. Chris had chosen Dorothy Dunnett as her role model and wished to invite me to represent Dorothy with her at the reception at the Parliament to mark the completion of the sculpture. I was honoured to be asked and had hoped to attend but sadly pressure of work in the run up to Christmas eventually prevented me from doing so. However Chris has very kindly sent me a report on the reception, which follows here.
‘TRAVELLING THE DISTANCE’
Early in 2006, the Scottish Executive decided to install a sculpture in the Parliament Building as a permanent reminder of the contribution made by Scottish Women to the advancement of democracy and the improvement of the lives of women in Scotland. On 8th March 2006, Malcolm Chisholm, Minister for Communities, announced that Shauna McMullan had successfully bid for the commission to produce a sculpture.
Shauna decided that such a sculpture should take the form of the personal handwriting of 100 women giving their thoughts in expression of their admiration of a Scottish Woman whom they viewed as having made a significant contribution towards Scottish Life/culture/democracy. A short sentence was to be part of the sculpture which would be in porcelain and affixed to the walls of the Scottish Parliament in three panels. The 100 women came from all sections of Scottish Life and each one was proposed by the previously named and so on.
The role models covered a large spectrum of Scottish Life and achievement, and the sentences written in conjunction with choice were in some instances very serious, and in others frivolous. I have derived a great deal of pleasure from the writing of Dorothy Dunnett (having read all of her works) and so it gave me pleasure to name her as my role model.
I decided on the words “The written word enhances the mind” as my sentence and I did wonder if I had chosen wisely as many sentences were much longer and more informative of the person to whom they referred. My uncertainty was somewhat assuaged on learning from the artist, Shauna, that Malcolm Chisholm had picked this one out on viewing the sculpture and remarked that ‘it was indeed a truth’.
The Evening Reception held on 14 December 2006 was a pleasant affair commencing with the customary glass of wine and a welcome from the Deputy Presiding Officer of the Parliament who spoke at length of the parliamentary achievements and the role of women. The guests then proceeded to view the sculpture and all were obviously thrilled to pick out the part in which they were involved. My sentence appears two-thirds down on the middle panel and I felt honoured to be part of this sculpture. After the viewing, Malcolm Chisholm spoke and then the artist, Shauna McMullen delighted the audience with her comments. She is a beautiful young Irish Girl of a delightful personality and a person whom it is a joy to know. She has a studio in Glasgow which she shares with her boyfriend; they plan to marry next year. Personally, I found the evening to be pleasant, especially sharing thoughts and experiences with other women and learning what they had written and why.
Shauna informed me that a book will be published sometime around March 2007 and this will detail the names of the roll models and the proposers.
My thanks to Chris for this description, for choosing Dorothy, and for the invitation. I would have been proud to have represented Dorothy, who with her own love of sculpture would undoubtedly have been interested in the piece and proud to have been included. I hope to visit the Parliament in the near future and take a photograph of the relevant section to show on this site. And yes, for once I agree with a politician, a very appropriate choice of words – well done!