As part of the Scottish Parliament’s 20th anniversary, and to coincide with International Women’s Day, the free exhibit is a digital touchscreen-based interpretation of the sculpture called Travelling the Distance by Glasgow-based artist Shauna McMullan.
The sculpture, which was originally unveiled at the Scottish Parliament in 2006 to celebrate women’s contribution to society, is a collection of 100 sentences written by women from across Scotland, each writing about an inspirational woman or group of women.
The new digital exhibit reveals the fascinating stories behind the artwork, by using photography and videos of ten of the women reading out their sentences and talking about their tributes. It also features an interview with the artist on what was involved in making the collaborative artwork, and her aim to create an alternative map of Scotland that explores the friendships and connections across generations and places.
As well as nurses, teachers, activists, writers and artists, the exhibit highlights historically-significant women. It includes Dr Elsie Inglis, who founded the Scottish Women's Hospitals and championed the treatment of women, Mary Queen of Scots and Marianne Grant, an artist who painted the devastation she witnessed at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
The Presiding Officer, the Rt. Hon. Ken Macintosh MSP said:
“The Travelling the Distance artwork is a big part of our history as a Parliament and it continues to intrigue and inspire our many visitors, who enjoy this unusual sculpture.
“This new digital exhibit lets visitors find out more about the fascinating women involved and their rich and varied stories for the very first time. Many well-known women feature in the sculpture but so too do the ‘unwritten women’ who do not appear in the history books and whose lives have been dedicated to the support of others.
“As the Scottish Parliament is marking its 20th anniversary this year, it’s important that we take time to celebrate and reflect on the achievements of all women across society and their role in shaping Scotland’s past, present and future.”
Glasgow-based artist Shauna McMullan said:
“It’s a real privilege that the Parliament is taking a fresh look at the sculpture, and I think that any opportunity to talk about the contributions women have made to history and culture is really important.
“The new digital exhibit is exciting because it captures the story and journey behind the sculpture. By listening to each of the women reading out their tributes, you pick up on the subtle humour, sadness and the great admiration in their words.
“It’s been many years since making this collaborative artwork, but for me it is still very much alive. The conversations and friendships between the women are on-going to this day, and to all come together again and celebrate the legacy of this artwork is very special indeed.”
It is free to see the Travelling the Distance sculpture and the new digital exhibit. The sculpture can also be viewed on one of our free public or art tours.
The artwork was funded by the Scottish Government (then Executive) and commissioned by Government and Scottish Parliament representatives. Find out more about the artwork.
Historically-significant women in Travelling the Distance include…
• Mary Queen of Scots
• Queen Margaret
• Dr Elsie Inglis, doctor and founder of the Scottish Women's Hospitals
• Dr Sophia Jex-Blake, Scotland's first practising female doctor
• Janet Horne, the last woman in Scotland to be executed for being a witch
• Maggie Keswick Jencks, founder of Maggie’s Centres
• Jennie Lee, founder of the Open University
• Flora MacDonald, Jacobite heroine
• Lydia Miller, children’s author
• Agnes Moffat, one of the children coal bearers of Niddrie who gave evidence that helped outlaw women and children working in coalmines in the UK
• Màiri Mhòr Nan Òran, Gaelic poet
• Margaret Fay Shaw, photographer and collector of island lore
• Helen Crummy, founder of Craigmillar Arts Festival
• Jane Welsh Carlyle, Scottish writer
• Dorothy Dunnett, Scottish historical novelist
• Joan Eardley, Scottish artist