Tag Archives: SSSA

SSSA in 70 Objects: Filling the Creative Well: A Tribute to Joan W. Clark

Manuscript: The Joan Clark Collection

Response by: Elaine MacGillivray

 

Out of a thousand possible options, I have chosen to respond to the manuscript collection of Scottish botanist Joan W. Clark (1908-1999) – in particular, her wildflower specimen books

Pressed plant specimen, ‘Water Speedwell’, pinkish broiwn stem with seeds and leaves

Pressed plant specimen, ‘Water Speedwell’, collected by Joan Clark from a ditch on North Uist, August 1976 (SSSA: Joan Clark Collection)

Joan Wendoline Clark grew up in Kincardineshire and Sussex. Fluent in French and German, skilled in shorthand and a trained typist, she worked for a time at the Foreign Office in London and at the British Embassy in Paris. In the 1930s she returned with her Scottish husband to Scotland and together they settled in Lochaber, where she remained until her death on 6 July 1999. Shortly after her death, her daughter, Anna MacLean kindly gifted Joan’s manuscript collection to the School of Scottish Studies Archives. The collection includes her correspondence and botanical research notes dating from the 1970s right up until 1999, along with three specimen books containing almost 350 pressed wildflowers collected around Onich, Ballachulish, North Uist and Glencoe in around 1976.

Pressed plant specimen, ‘Bitter Vetch’

Pressed plant specimen, ‘Bitter Vetch’, collected by Joan Clark at [B]allachuil[ish], May 1976. (SSSA: Joan Clark Collection)

Joan Clark’s wildflower specimen books are made up of three A4 sized sugar paper leaved scrapbooks.  Turning the pages, I found each leaf contained between one and three pressed wildflower specimens. Bedstraw, iris, sea pinks, sundew, dog’s mercury and so many more are all represented, carefully laid out and attached with tiny strips of paper glued at either end. Beside each specimen the name of the plant, the location it was found, the date collected and additional notes are recorded in blue or black ink. The addition of this metadata means that the specimen books are not purely aesthetic but also scientifically valuable.

Joan Clark’s manuscript collection is testament to her incredible contribution to botanical science. Her meticulous and painstaking research informed Richard Pankhurst and J. M. Mullin’s Flora of the Outer Hebrides (1991), and she collaborated with Ian MacDonald of the Gaelic Book Council to publish Gaelic Names of Plants / Ainmean Gàidhlig Lusan (1999). Many have paid tribute to her calibre as a botanist, not least the renowned and respected botanist A. C. Jermy of the Natural History Museum (Watsonia, 2000).

Pressed plant specimen, ‘St John’s Wort’ (also known as Goat Weed), A stem with two fat green leaves at the bottom. two further up and two yellow flower heards

Pressed plant specimen, ‘St John’s Wort’ (also known as Goat Weed), collected by Joan Clark from the shore at North Ballachulish, July 1976. (SSSA: Joan Clark Collection)

Jenny Sturgeon wrote in her response to Alan Bruford’s recording of Tom Tulloch (11 Jun 2021), “local names for flora and fauna root us to where we come from and there is a cultural history and identity associated with them.” Growing up on the west coast of Argyll, I was taught the names of the local wildflowers there by my mother and grandmothers. During my post-graduate studies in Liverpool, my mother once sent me a snapdragon – collected, pressed and placed between two pieces of tissue paper in a card. On the card was a scribbled note: “snapdragons are out and so I thought you would like to see one!” For me, and for many, flora and fauna offer up a very tangible connection to people, place and time.

Pressed plant specimen, ‘Dog’s Mercury’, This is a burgundy in colour with eight or nine leaves terminating at the top of a long stem

Pressed plant specimen, ‘Dog’s Merury’, collected by Joan Clark at Duror, April 1976 (SSSA: Joan Clark Collection)

With this in mind and inspired by Joan Clark, earlier in 2021 I set out to collect some of my own herbarium specimens. I packed up my rucksack with the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland’s Guide to Collecting and Pressing Specimens, my phone (for the camera), a pair of scissors, a pack of coffee filters (in place of parchment paper), and Delia Smith’s Complete Illustrated Cookbook (the weightiest book in my library and my makeshift flower press).

Pressed plant specimen, ‘Bluebell’, collected by Elaine MacGillivray at the Den of Scone, June 2021.

I collected around 10 specimens from a local Perthshire woodland. Some of them I knew well, like the common broom, vetches, campion and bluebell; others left me scratching my head.

Pressed plant specimen, ‘Unidentified’, collected by Elaine MacGillivray at the Den of Scone, June 2021.

Pressed plant specimen, ‘Unidentified’, collected by Elaine MacGillivray at the Den of Scone, June 2021.

 

In attempting to identify my specimens, I found myself poring over Francis Buchanan White’s Flora of Perthshire (1898), the Perthshire Society for Natural Science’s Checklist of the Plants of Perthshire (1992), and an old copy of the Readers’ Digest Guide to Wildflowers of Britain (1996). I compared my specimens to photographs that I had of Joan Clark’s specimen books, and to images and descriptions on the webpages of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Wildflower Finder, and the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. The result is that some of my metadata remains lacking until such a time as I can identify and name the plant, or until my newly acquired membership of the botany section of the Perthshire Society for Natural Science pays dividends!

Pressed plant specimen, ‘Common Broom’, collected by Elaine MacGillivray at Nether Balgarvie / Parkfield House, Scone, June 2021.

 

The creative process of collecting, pressing, identifying and documenting was completely absorbing. Through it I have learned to pay greater attention to my environment, gained a deeper understanding of my locality and the interdependence of people and plants. One of the many privileges of working so intimately with archival collections is that we are repeatedly offered a unique opportunity to develop knowledge and interest in a person, subject or era that otherwise may well have eluded us. In trying to see the world through the botanical wisdom of Joan Clark, the present-day natural world has opened up to me in a way I might never have imagined. I have an even greater respect for the knowledge, work, tenacity, dedication and patience that she and others must have brought to their botanical studies. I wonder what Joan Clark would have made of my amateur attempt to emulate her. I hope that she would be pleased that her legacy has inspired, and is able to continue to inspire, a new found passion to know, understand and protect plants and their environment.

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

Thank you to Louise Scollay, Caroline Milligan and Dr Ella Leith for their encouragement, prods, and proofreading.

 

Images are copyright, please do not reproduce.

 

Sources and further information:

Jermy, A.C., Obituary of Joan Wendoline Clark (1908-1999) in Watsonia, No. 23, (2000), pp.359-372 (http://archive.bsbi.org.uk/Wats23p359.pdf)

Murray, C.W., In Memorium – Joan W Clark (Rust) 1908-1999 in BSBI Scottish Newsletter, No. 22, (2000), pp. 12-13 (http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=2BC0FC507955B7D126E651E0C6CFE287?doi=10.1.1.659.2850&rep=rep1&type=pdf).

 

Elaine MacGillivray was the School of Scottish Studies Project Archivist, 2014-2016

 

 


Is there an ‘object’ related to the School of Scottish Studies that you would like to write about or respond to? It could be a recording, an image, a manuscript or something else!
We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us at scottish.studie.archives (at) ed.ac.uk

Tagged , , ,

Queering the Archive: Chat with Rufus Elliot and Rylan Gleave from OVER/AT and their new EP, “Folk’s Songs”

 

 

An image of some of the SSSA collections and shelving with the progress pride filter added. Bottom text says Queering The Archive in white.

 

As part Queering the Archives, we will feature conversations and podcasts with various people undertaking work and projects that feature LGBT+ voices and representation. My first conversation is with musicians and vocalists Rufus Elliot and Rylan Gleave about their work with OVER/AT and their new EP, “Folk’s Songs”.

 

“FOLKS’ SONGS is a new E.P. from the trans music-making world of OVER/AT. It comprises three exclusive, newly commissioned audio pieces by three Scotland-based trans, non-binary, or other gender-minority artists: new songs for/by/with the Folk. It is unlike any trans music-making which has come before it in Scotland.”

 

Rufus is a composer and musicians and founder and producer of OVER/AT, “a trans nonbinary and gender diverse music making world” that works directly with Scottish and Scotland based trans, nonbinary, and gender diverse musicians. OVER/AT is designed to empower and create imaginative responses from trans voices. It commissioned three artists to make pieces, responding to the idea of the trans voice. This included Malin Lewis, Harry Josephine Giles, and Matthew Arthur Williams. They each made completely different responses to that idea that made up the EP of “Folk’s Songs”.

Rylan Gleave is a composer and vocalist based in Glasgow, who also teaches singing and has produced and worked on the OVER/AT project. Rylan held introductory vocal workshops and individual lessons with some of the artists from the EP. He also recorded Viv singing Out of Existence, on Rufus’ direction, due to C19 restrictions. Alongside Rufus, Rylan created some accessible singing resources, including making audio voice-overs and BSL interpretation to go on the website

The EP is an incredibly visceral record that takes you through the trans, nonbinary, and gender diverse music experience through the voice and its eclectic sounds. The EP explores the idea of speaking out, the voice, and trans voices and spaces and being empowered to explore our voices. The voice is something that can be so personal to each trans experience and the EP is an example of how strong the trans voice and creativity is, as well as showing how trans, nonbinary and gender diverse Folk can use the voice and create spaces in the music scene and beyond. It was a joy to chat everything OVER/AT and the EP with Rufus and Rylan and delving into the influences of the EP and their own work, as well as trans and queer representation in music and elsewhere.

 

Listen to the podcast here:

https://tinyurl.com/yah5j8vr

 

 

 

“Folk’s Songs” was released March 26, 2021.

artwork – Jamie Crewe
additional design – Leo Valenti
producer – Rufus Isabel Elliot
mixing and mastering engineer – Kay Logan

track 1 recorded by Malin Lewis
track 2 recorded by Matthew Arthur Williams & Joel Cu
tracks 3-7 recorded by Rylan Gleave
track 8 recorded by Matthew Arthur Williams and Rufus Isabel Elliot

The work was made possible by Sound and Music’s Composer-Curator programme, and supported by Creative Scotland. Composer-Curator is supported by Arts Council England and PRS Foundation.

Find further information on OVER/AT and purchase “Folk’s Songs” on Bandcamp here: https://over-at.bandcamp.com/  Access the learning resources here: https://www.ambf.co.uk/learning-resources

Find more about Rufus here: https://www.ambf.co.uk/

Find more about Rylan here: https://www.rylangleave.com/

And check out the album, “Not Passing” here: https://comfortglasgow.bandcamp.com/album/not-passing

 

 

 

Written by Elliot Holmes.

Elliot is one of the Archives and Library Assistants at the School of Scottish Studies Archives and uses He/They pronouns. You can also find him on twitter @elliotlholmes

Follow @EU_SSSA on twitter for updates and sharing our collections.

Please do feel free to get in touch with Elliot to take part in a podcast or other Queering the Archive blogs and information on the workshop and future events!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Queering the Archive: Cross-Dressing Ballads in the School of Scottish Studies Archive

As the first in our series of blogs as part of ‘Queering the Archive’ initiative, I discuss some infamous ‘cross-dressing’ ballads within our collections.  

Here at the School of Scottish Studies, we hold many records of the popular cross-dressing ballads that exists in Scottish oral tradition and traditional songs. Protagonists of these forms of ballads and songs are often women. These ballads involve a humorous tale of women in forms of drag and concealment as a way to engage in male public life or work. Common forms of this are cross-dressing sea-ballads that describe the protagonist entering the workforce. Women were excluded from joining the ranks of the navy and any work at sea was relegated into different roles for men and women. As such, the selected ballads can be viewed as a way of subverting gender roles and societal expectations through drag and cross-dressing. While these are not necessarily queer stories, we can apply queer theory to these records thus allowing us to queer the archive and Scottish sounds. 

 

This blog was originally created in mind to not only provide my own point of interest in just some of the examples of the ‘queer’ in the archive but to introduce application of theory and some of my own thoughts to the records. Though I do not see these as records of particular LGBT+ identity, they are examples of the ‘queering’ of records and application of queer theory. 

Content warnings apply within this blog and for some of the sound material for sexual content, issues in consent, and themes and depictions of gender that some may find uncomfortable. 

 

The first ballad to be discussed is The Banks O’ Skene, which describes how a young female protagonist sought work in the navy and disguised herself in “men’s clothing”. The protagonist is apprenticed to a heckler and sings of how “the girlies all fell in love with me below The Banks O’ Skene.” This can be seen as subversion of expected gender roles and exploration of sexuality and performance that wouldn’t often be afforded to women. However, later in the ballad the protagonist is discovered by her master and the ballad continues with bawdy descriptions of exposure of identity, drinking, and her master, “taking her maidenhead” and the ballad ending in pregnancy and marriage. While intended as a humorous tale, it reflects issues and attitudes of the life of women working on ships and the reasons given why women working aboard naval vessels were frowned upon due to notions of sexual relationships, pregnancy, and conflict. Through application of queer theory, this turns into a tale of a female protoganist gaining freedom in male fields of work and performance, but ultimately having to fall to her expected female role of sex and marriage. 

Another example of a similar style of cross-dressing ballad is The Handsome Cabin Boy, in which the female protagonist disguises herself as a young cabin boy. She is described by the sailors as handsome and pretty in most versions of the ballad, while she is still ‘disguised’ as male. Her identity is only ‘discovered’ once she gives birth to the Captain’s baby. This song is similar in style and content as The Banks O’ Skene, again singing of the benefits of navigating the world disguised as a man, and later the problematic exposure narrative and relegation of roles of birth and marriage. A different queer narrative can be applied to this in the example of the hidden sexual relationships of sailors and the attraction the other sailors felt towards the protagonist when she was viewed as The Handsome Cabin Boy 

There is also another known cross-dressing ballad of Billy Taylor, or Willy Taylor. A jilted lover of Billy Taylor disguises herself as a man and finds work aboard his ship. She discovers Billy with another woman and shoots him. The Captain of the ship is so impressed by the bravery and act that he makes her commander of the ship and gives her a hundred men. This ballad is different from The Banks O’ Skene and The Handsome Cabin Boy, as while it does involve the typical problematic and often times literal exposure narrative of these ballads, it does not feature a sexual relationship that ends in discovery and pregnancy. It instead follows the ballad and protagonist archetype of a romantic heroine that takes revenge on her cheating lover. This ballad begins and ends with subverting gender roles through taking on work as a man of lower status on the ship to ultimately becoming highly ranked to a Captain when the protagonist is no longer ‘cross-dressing’. 

Not all cross-dressing ballads follow a life at sea. There is also the ballad, The Famous Flower of Serving Men, in which the female character of ‘young Ellen fair’ cuts off her hair and becomes ‘young Willie Dare’ after an attack on her life and child by her step-mother. She later goes to find work dressed as a man, and gains a job in the castle, initially as a stable boy. However, because Young Willie Dare is so handsome, which is acknowledged by her Master and the working men, she gains rank as a serving man. The Master later finds out her identity and marries her because she is so beautiful and handsome. Other ballads follow the young protagonist entering the military, such the group of ballads, “The Female Drummer”, “The Solder Maid”, and “Wi my Nice Hat and Feather”. The groups of ballads also involve similar narratives of entering the male sphere of work and roles in the military, with some queer attraction. In the version of “The Female Drummer” sung by Margaret Jeffrey, it is noted that “Although [the protagonist] pretends to be a young man, she is so beautiful that another girl falls in love with her”, however it is also related to aspects of heteronormativity by the end of the ballad, “She is told that if she ever gets married and has a son, she should send him to learn to play the drum.” 

We also hold many more examples of these types of ballads, as well as examples of cross-dressing ballads where men were dressed as women. This is also often used as a form of anecdotes and tales, where men were dressed up to escape a skirmish or the authorities. The most famous of these songs surround Bonny Prince Charlie dressing up as a female maidservant to escape to the Highlands, which includes the songs Moladh Mòraig‘ [Marion’s Wailing’, and many more. Other examples of this cross-dressing narrative, includes the tale of Mac Iain Bhàin Ghobha and the robbers”. The Gaelic tales describes how Mac Iain Bhàin Ghobha’s partner leaves for America to find where work as a servant. She is later captured and taken to a cave of robbers, in which she finds Mac Iain Bhàin Ghobha dressed as a woman. They fight and deal with the robbers and gain money for bringing them to justice. They both marry once they return to Scotland with their new riches. The majority of these ballads or tales are Romantic in nature and feature a brave heroine, a daring protagonist, or forms of escapism and running away and heroics. It is notable that most of these ballads and tales also end in finding love in heterosexual marriage, thus relegating any subversion of binary gender roles or examples of any kind of sexual fluidity and exploration back to the traditional heterosexual spheres of marriage. 

 

We can apply queer theory to these records in the sense that the ballads often explore subversion of binary gender roles and include some form of queer attraction and aspects of fluidity. However, these ballads are often told and passed down through a cisgender and heterosexual lens. Some ballads reduce queerness and cross-dressing to mockery, and at times, dangerThemes of deception can be common which can make some an uncomfortable listen when considering themes and narratives of these forms of ballads. Almost all of the ballads in our collections end in a heterosexual marriage and raises questions about the context of expected societal roles and views of fluidityQueering the Archive will allow us to analyse these records and more through queer theory within the workshops and beyond. 

 

The records discussed in this blog are available for listening on Tobar an Dualchais: 

 

“The Banks o Skene”. George Hay recorded by Hamish Henderson. Aberdeenshire, Skene. SA1957.17.A3 http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/20800  

“The Handsome Cabin Boy”. Jeannie Robertson recorded by Hamish Henderson. 
SA1954.72.B8  http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/2363 

“Billy Taylor”. Robb Watt recorded by Arthur Argo. 
SA1960.255.A4 http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/82824  

“The Famous Flower of Serving Men”. Jeannie Roberston recorded by Hamish Henderson, SA1954.103.A1; SA1954.103.A2, 525  http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/38037  

“The Female Drummer” Margaret Jeffrey recorded by Hamish Henderson.
SA1956.123.A5,  http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/20185  

“The Female Drummer”. Donald George Gunn recorded by Donald Grant.
 SA1963.87.A9  http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/48437  

“The Soldier Maid”. Rob Watt recorded by Arthur Argo.
SA1960.253  http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/59181  

“The Drummer Maid” James Laurenson recorded by Alan J. Bruford.
SA1973.62.A5   http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/75663  

“Wi my Nice Hat and Feather”. Jimmy Taylor recorded by Hamish Henderson.
SA1952.32.B18 (B25) http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/46812  

“Moladh Mòraig”. Pipe Major Robert Bell Nicol recorded by Pipe Major Neville MacKay.
SA1964.264.B2  http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/71946  

“Mac Iain Bhàin Ghobha agus na robairean” Angus MacLellan recorded by Donald Archie MacDonald, SA1963.57.A2  http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/78752  

 

(There are also other versions of these ballads on Tobar an Dualchais. To find our records, select School of Scottish Studies only within Advanced Search. All of our records will be listed under SA.) 

 

 

If you are interested in taking part in Queering the Archive workshops, or if you are interested in researching LGBT+ records or using our collections for your work, please contact eholmes@ed.ac.uk  

 

Written by Elliot Holmes. 

Elliot is one of the Archives and Library Assistants at the School of Scottish Studies Archives and uses He/They pronouns. You can also find him on twitter @elliotlholmes  

Follow @EU_SSSA on twitter for updates and sharing our collections. 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

SSSA @ 70

 

In 2021 the School of Scottish Studies Archives celebrates our 70th Anniversary and we look forward to sharing exciting content, news and events with you this year.

We are also eager to hear from you, if you have any memories of The School of Scottish Studies, which you would like to share with us.

You can email us at scottish.studies.archives@ed.ac.uk and you can also find us on twitter: www.twitter.com/eu_SSSA.

We will be adding more to the blog soon, so please bookmark our URL or subscribe via email to receive new posts straight to your inbox.

 

For more information about The School of Scottish Studies collections, you can visit www.ed.ac.uk/is/sssa 

 

Tagged ,