The Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle houses a rich variety of artwork to honour & remember those who died in World War One. When it was built, between 1923 & 1927, over 200 professional artists worked with the architect, Robert Lorimer, to create a suitable tribute.
The interior of the memorial expresses the tragic sense of loss felt by Scotland after WW1. Inside the building, there is a feeling of dignity, pride and a sense of peace. The artists and makers used different materials, including bronze, iron, wood, stone, paint as well as stained glass. The result is impressive.
The artworks are designed to pay respect to the individual Scots who died, both men and women in all their different roles. Animals are acknowledged too, in the much loved stone sculpture ‘Remember also those Humble Beasts‘ by Phyllis Bone.
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Certainly the most colourful element of the SNWM is the is the stained glass with light flooding in from outside. In the main Hall of Honour the windows provide a lot of information, if you look carefully. For example, there is imagery illustrating what life was like on the Home Front, such as the mobilising of troops at Waverley Station (pictured top).
At either end of the hall, there are windows dedicated to different military services; that is the army, the navy and the air force – land, sea & air. Other windows show the four seasons. Some of the windows have roundels illustrating the different jobs people did or technology used in the machinery of war.
The windows in the Shrine are different to those in the Hall of Honour. These seven windows tell a another story, they use Bible and Christian messages to describe the experience of the War. Therefore they look more familiar to many, perhaps like traditional church windows at first glance.
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The artist who made all of these stunning windows was Douglas Strachan (1875-1950). Strachan was born in Aberdeen and educated at Robert Gordon’s College. He took evening classes at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen. He worked as an apprentice lithographer, a muralist, a portrait painter and then found a passion for working with stained glass. In 1909 he moved to Edinburgh to set up the crafts department of Edinburgh College of Art. He lived in Midlothian where he died in 1950. He worked on many other memorial windows, including a designs for the Peace Palace in The Hague installed in 1929.
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* To see more of the SNWM stained glass windows on Scran click here
Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was born on November 13 1850 in Edinburgh to parents Thomas Stevenson and Margaret Balfour. The Stevenson family were already well known as Thomas and his father, Robert Stevenson, were both famous lighthouse designers and engineers. From them, Robert Louis inherited his adventurous nature that would stimulate his imagination and spark his interest in literature. As a child Robert was severely ill due to a weakness in his lungs which he inherited from his mother. His health improved with age and after a troublesome time at Edinburgh Academy he entered Edinburgh University at the age of seventeen. Lacking the necessary approach for engineering, he instead pursued law and was called to the bar at twenty-five. This was a reserve plan to fall back on should his true passion – literature – fail.
A man who saw great romance and art in all aspects of life, Stevenson decided to travel. This was most likely in search of better health but also for adventure. As a writer, he craved stimulation for his imagination and he created notes of all he saw. His travels took him to Grez-Doiceau, Belgium and France where he visited Nemours and Paris often. A canoe trip in 1878 inspired his travelogue An Inland Voyage and later Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes. He also wrote a number of articles and essays to generate income. Two years before this, he had met Fanny Vandegrift Osbourne, an American divorcee, in France and fallen in love. A few months later she returned home and fell ill. When the news reached him, Stevenson, against the advice of his friends, departed for San Francisco. The journey from New York to California almost killed him. However, it inspired his works An Amateur Immigrant and Across the Plains. He eventually arrived in San Francisco with scarcely any money at all. By the end of winter 1879 his health declined once more. Fanny nursed him back to health.
Master of Literature
In May 1880 he and Fanny married. They would spend the next seven years seeking a suitable environment for his ever declining health. Having suffered so terribly in winter during his life, they would reside in Scotland and England during the warmer months, and spend winters in France . His greatest works were created in this period: Treasure Island, The Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Kidnapped. He also published two volumes of poetry: A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods. Stevenson’s father died in 1887. In June 1888 Stevenson chartered the yacht Casco and he and his family sailed around various locations. This period also saw the production of further work including: The Master of Ballantrae, The Bottle Imp and The South Seas.
The Latter Years
In 1890 Stevenson and his family moved to the Samoan island of Upolu where he would live out his final years. He named his estate Vailima, meaning “Five Rivers”. His literary work and reputation was influential and the locals would consult him for advice. They named him the Tusitala – the Teller of Tales. His interaction with the locals led him to observe that European rule was less than benevolent and he published the highly critical A Footnote on History. Given his literary power, his work caused two officials to be recalled. As well as supporting the natives and building his estate, Stevenson published further works such as David Balfour and Ebb Tide. He also wrote the Vailima Letters in this period. With his health waning, Stevenson became depressed and concerned that his creativity was being exhausted. His spirit refused to succumb and he began his masterpiece, the Weir of Hermiston. He apparently remarked: “It’s so good that it frightens me.” He would not complete it. On December 3 1894, after working on his book, Stevenson collapsed in the company of his wife. He was 44 when he died as a result of a cerebral haemorrhage. The natives surrounded his body and carried their Tusitala upon their shoulders to a cliff top where he was buried.
Imagery © Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Historic Environment Scotland, Dundee Central Library – Licensor Scran
We have become dedicated followers of fashion here at Scran. Not only do we share our wit & wisdom through diverse collections on Twitter @Scranlife, we now have a presence on the ubiquitous Facebook @Scranlife too!
We’ll be bringing the best of our content out of the closet & giving it a good airing online. With almost half a million items in our care, we should be able to stay on trend, like our Parisian models. Whatever your social media leanings, we hope to address your needs with a bespoke social service – through culture, heritage & learning.
So, more about this fashion illustration – it’s from La Nouvelle Mode, a weekly fashion journal published in Paris. Dated 1909, the above plate is from the journal, compiled in a ‘Book of Fashion Plates from La Nouvelle Mode: Fashions 1908-1911′ and is signed by the artist ‘Drian’ – who also produced many plates for the French publication ‘Gazette du Bon Ton‘. The French title of this plate translates as ‘The art of the milliner‘.
From 1900-10, hats were often large and elaborately trimmed with feathers, flowers and ribbons. Hair was bouffant and arranged off the face and was often worn padded. It could also be worn in Marcel waves – a series of even waves put in the hair with a curling iron invented by the early 20th century French hairdresser, Marcel Grateau.
Image © National Museums Scotland | Licensor Scran
Scran paid a visit to Dunoon & it was a grand day out!
The purpsose of our visit was to meet the team of volunteers working with Dunoon Burgh Hall Trust as part of their Pop Up Programme. The Trust is in the midst of an exciting project to reclaim what is one of the town’s most important civic buildings. The 1873 Hall, listed on the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland, is currently undergoing a major refurbishment and restoration programme. If you are curious to see the before pictures, there are 99 images available via Historic Environment Scotland on Canmore.
Meanwhile the volunteers are not letting the dust settle – they are investigating local heritage and all things relating to the history of this seaside town & the wider Dunoon community. During our visit we were able to show everyone how to access Scran, free of charge using their Argyll & Bute library cards. Together we looked at and discussed a host of collections material, including the day the Waverley ran aground – seen below in 1977. Some of the volunteers remembered it clearly & memories were exchanged. There were other reminiscences too, relating to more controversial events in 1984 when different peace demonstrations took place in Dunoon.
Of course the relationship between Dunoon Burgh Hall Trust & Scran pre-dates this visit. The Trust previously contributed film footage from Holy Loch Heritage – the American Presence a project which aimed to bring to life the 30 year period when the American Naval Base was sited at nearby Holy Loch. We are delighted to say our partnership is set to extend into 2016, when we look forward to sharing more Dunoon ephemera surfacing from the restoration works. To see what’s been lurking under their floorboards, watch this space.
Images © Argyll & Bute Library Information Service, Historic Environment Scotland, The Scotsman, Dunoon Burgh Hall Trust | Licensor Scran
International Women’s Day (IWD) emerged at the turn of the twentieth century in Europe and North America. It originated in labour movements and was initially linked to the causes of women workers and suffragists. Since 1913 it has been celebrated annually in various countries on the 8th of March. It has become a day for raising worldwide awareness of the need for women’s equality in the workplace, in education, politics and in the social sphere.
History of IWD
What is now referred to as International Women’s Day started off as the National Women’s Day in 1908 in the US. 15,000 female garment workers marched through New York on strike, demanding better working conditions and the right to vote. In the following year, the US Socialist Party established the women’s day as an annual national celebration.
At the Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen in 1910, over 100 women from 17 countries attended. They agreed to establish Women’s Day as an occasion for speaking out against social, political and economic discrimination towards women.
In Russia, IWD has been held on every last Sunday in February since 1913. On IWD, in the war-ridden year of 1917, Russian women started a mass-demonstration for ‘Bread and Peace’. After four days the Czar abdicated and Russian women were given the right to vote. In the Gregorian calendar this Sunday fell on the 8th of March. It has been the date for the IWD in the rest of Europe ever since, although initially it was mainly celebrated in communist countries. Even though conditions were harsh and most female employees were paid less than their male counterparts, World War I provided an employment opportunity for women on a large societal scale. Most men were away fighting in the war so industries were reliant on the female workforce. Since women needed to make ends meet in the absence of their men, they worked, developed vocational skills and learned to handle financial matters independently.
Even though women from privileged backgrounds had limited access to university education in Britain from the 1870s onwards, it was several decades until it became more common for women to attend universities and also to be taught science subjects at school. The University of Edinburgh was the first university nationwide to admit women to study medicine (12 November 1862). Yet female students were initially not allowed to graduate and faced much opposition and discriminating regulations. This meant women could not work as professional doctors, with some remarkable exceptions, until decades later.
Cambridge University established two colleges for women in 1869 (Girton College) and 1872 (Newnham College). However, it took until 1947 for women to be accepted as full members of Cambridge university. The first university to admit female students on the same terms as male students was the University College of London in 1878. In the 1960s and 1970s, the second wave feminist movement in the UK addressed issues of gender inequality with a special focus on education. The Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 rendered unlawful the unfavourable treatment of women (or men) based on sex or marriage, at the workplace, in education or training. It had the function “of working towards the elimination of such discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity between men and women”.
Since the 1890s the suffrage movement in Britain had stood up for women’s right to vote. Following the movement’s activities, the Representation of the People Act in 1918 granted electoral rights to women of property, aged 30 years or older. (The Act also meant that men of any social standing were now in a position to vote.) In addition women were officially allowed to stand for parliament. Nancy Astor was the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons in 1919. Only in 1958, following the Life Peerages Act of that year, were the first women appointed to the House of Lords. In 1928, under the Equal Franchise Act, the right to vote was extended to women of any social standing, aged 21 years and older. Men and women in Britain had finally gained equal electoral rights.
With increasing opportunities for vocational training and university learning in the 20th century, women have gained wider access to a range of occupations. (eg film director Jill Craigie.) The issue of equal pay for men and women has been addressed by equal rights campaigners since the 1940s (eg politician Jennie Lee) and increasingly so from the 1960s onwards.
Creating opportunities for women to enter a wider range of occupations as well as high level positions in the professional world is still an ongoing topic. To an extent, the objectives of women’s rights campaigners are somewhat in accord with those of the growing gender equality and Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual (LGBT) movement. (See also Discrimination – Sexuality.)
In the world of international sport, such as the Olympics or Commonwealth Games, women (unlike men) were initially allowed to only participate in a limited number of sport contests. It was not until 1976 that the range of sports offered to women in the Olympics began to increase significantly. Images of female athletes and professional sportswomen then began to become more frequent in the media.
IWD more recently
In the 1970s the United Nations began organising global IWD events to raise awareness of gender inequality issues. Since then, International Women’s Day has become a more widely-known event to promote female rights in many countries. Governments and women’s organisations worldwide, in the developing and the developed world, now use the day to run training, information and celebratory events.
In Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Georgia, Mongolia, Russia, Uganda, the Ukraine, Zambia, and several other countries, IWD is celebrated as a public holiday.
Images © Glasgow Caledonian University Library, Falkirk Museums, Hulton Getty, The City of Edinburgh Council | Licensor Scran
Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January, is the day for everyone to remember the millions of Jews murdered during the Holocaust, and the millions of people killed Nazi Persecution throughout World War Two.
In recent years, the Gathering the Voices Association has been collecting and recording survivor’s stories – some came on the Kindertransport, meanwhile others survived concentration camps and many made remarkable journeys to get to safety in Scotland.
One such person was Marion Camrass; her story begins in Poland 1932. She was born into a wealthy family in Krakow. As a child during World War Two she fled the fighting by travelling into Soviet Russia and eventually to Siberia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In 1946 she joined her aunt in Glasgow, where she completed her school education, went to university and finally settled.
Now you can listen to the interviews on Scran, not only the story of Marion Camrass but also that of Gretl Shapiro – hear all about their lives in Scotland after World War Two. Each interview has a full transcript available for reference and fascinating, accompanying images.
Images © Gathering the Voices
Scran is limbering up for Blogging Bootcamp #2 on Glow this afternoon.
We’ve even got our favourite sturdy pair of Doctor Martens from 1994 ready for the occasion. The Scran staff hope to learn a bit more about blogging – as well as sharing information about Scran, copyright, digital assets and our schools outreach work.
If you are taken by our lovely green Docs and fancy more fashionable footwear, why not browse through historical and contemporary shoe designs here.