A pioneering new exhibition has been launched at Kirkintilloch Town Hall – celebrating the lives and legacy of women in East Dunbartonshire.
Women Make Heritage! is the name of a new co-curated exhibition – the first to be held at Kirkintilloch Town Hall's new dedicated heritage and activity facility, Made in Kirkintilloch – which brings together visual research from the newly-formed Women’s History Group.
The exhibition features artworks, research materials and a stunning portrait of the group.
Women Make Heritage! was realised in collaboration with artist Rachel Mimiec working with local women Melanie Brickley, Morag Campbell, Elaine Carlton, Liz Dempsey, Alison Graham, Isobel Hartley, Margaret Hyde, Kim Kilgour, Alice Mackenzie and Joanna O’Brien.
The members went on a personal journey of exploration, inspiration and creation - focusing on work carried out by women, associated memories and stories.
Inspired by photos from the East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Culture (EDLC) collection, the group looked at local women working in a wide range of industries and roles - including weaving, spinning, mining, leadership and philanthropy.
Councillor Gillian Renwick, Vice Chair of EDLC Trust, welcomed members of the group, invited guests and members of the public to the launch on Saturday (7 April). More than 200 people attended throughout the day.
She said, “This is a remarkable exhibition – highlighting the incredible work carried out by women through the years in East Dunbartonshire.
“The exhibition shines a light on forgotten stories from local communities – illuminating the working lives of women and the enormous contribution they made - from philanthropists raising money for Lenzie Public Halls to gruelling work in mines and mills.
“I hope as many people as possible take the opportunity to visit this wonderful exhibition and find out more about their local history and heritage.”
The exhibition will run until 19 May and is open to the public – as is as the wider Made in Kirkintilloch facility – from 10am-4pm, Mon-Thurs, with occasional Saturday openings (restrictions may apply depending on bookings at the town hall – call 0141 777 3143 for more details).
In addition, artist Rachel Mimiec will be talking about her findings and work for Trails and Tales - with a particular emphasis on women, local communities, landscape and material - at Kirkintilloch Town Hall on Thursday 19 April, from 6.30pm-8.30pm.
Councillor Billy Hendry, Convener of Place, Neighbourhood & Corporate Assets, said, "Congratulations to everyone involved for their inspirational work to explore local heritage, as part of the Made in Kirkintilloch project.
“The exhibition also offers a chance to see inside the town hall building, following completion of its restoration and ahead of its official opening later this year.”
* The town hall will be open this Saturday (14 April). A free family printing workshop is being held from 10am-noon, repeated at 1pm-3pm. Participants will be invited to make artworks using carbon paper and collage material, working with copies of archive photographs. Rubber stamp cutting and printing will also be available to explore pattern making. The workshop is suitable for children over the age of seven. A parent/guardian must remain present at all times. The event is free, but booking is essential. Visit www.booking.edlc.co.uk/horizons/culture or call 0141 777 3143.
More information on the people involved in Women Make Heritage!:
* Alice Mackenzie’s book-based research into the philanthropic work of women across East Dunbartonshire, in particular Lenzie women, focuses on the 1890 BAZAAR, set up to raise funds for the building of Lenzie Public Halls.
* Kim Kilgour’s shawl design draws on writings and photographic archives to represent the impact of Winifred - Miss Paul - the longest serving teacher of any of the Westerton primary schools.
* Morag Campbell’s work features the names of local women – etched onto a view of the north east of the district, with the Campsie Fells in the background and the Rivers Glazert and Kelvin in the foreground.
* Joanna O’Brien’s research took her into the EDLC photo library and the Auld Kirk Museum, focusing on the image of weaver Maw Handley.
* Alison Graham’s shawl features Balgrochan Mill, one of the oldest mills in the district. Alison’s ancestors, John and Isabell Young, were farm servants who moved to the Kirkintilloch area in 1867, and their daughter Grace worked at Balgrochan Mill.
* Melanie Brickley’s work focuses on mill workers – who she powerfully describes as ‘solemn eyed women in shapeless skirts, pinned in to their shawls as they were doubtless hemmed in to their working lives’.
* Elaine Carlton’s shawl highlights women in mining. Working from archival photos in the EDLC collection, Elaine chose a stark black and white image of women heaving and pushing wagons of coal.
* Isobel’s Hartley’s shawl also looks at women in mining, using the starkness of black and white to convey the harshness of much “overlooked” women’s work at the “pit-head, picking stones out of the coal”.
* Liz Dempsey’s shawl is a homage to the women of Campsie/Lennoxtown “working in the Mines, Mills, Distilleries, Laundries, Alum Works, Shops, Schools and the cottage loom industry, in their own homes ... their names lost in time”.
* Margaret Hyde’s shawl design is her tribute to ‘Captain’ - Miss Sheena Pirie – a much-loved figure who started the first Guide Company in Torrance in 1927.
- Bookings can now be made for Kirkintilloch Town Hall, with an official opening due to take place later this year. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0141 777 3143.
- Facilities include:
- Main hall - offering flexible auditorium and events space (17m x 16.5m) with a potential capacity for 300 people, lighting and portable staging
- New extension - containing lesser town hall (8.8m x 18m), reception and offices
- Made in Kirkintilloch is a new arts and heritage learning space – within the town hall - created by EDLC Trust, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.