Based on Surgeons’ Hall’s remarkable archive of glass lantern slides, notes, letters and photographs relating to the Scottish Women’s Hospitals (SWH), ‘Field Notes’ explores and highlights the inspiring story of the women who provided medical assistance and support for the wounded in Serbia and France during the First World War.
Led by Elsie Inglis, Scottish women volunteers left the comforts and safety of home to help soldiers of all nations. In doing so they also helped promote the cause of women’s rights and women’s suffrage and gave its volunteers a sense of purpose and freedom that they had not previously experienced. The SWH archive gives an overwhelming sense of the humanity and humour of the women volunteers who rolled up their sleeves and got on with the task in spite of the perils and hardships faced by them.
Edinburgh based artists Joan Smith and Susie Wilson worked with this collection for over a year making drawings, prints, artist’s books and paintings inspired by the glass lantern slides and the notes created by the women on the front line, highlighting their amazing and inspiring story to bring it to the attention of a contemporary audience.
Joan Smith's paintings on copper respond to the material qualities and scale of the lantern slides as well as their haunting images. The strongest presences are those of the nurses themselves, dressed in pristine white as they go about their business. The paintings capture and preserve moments in time from this important period of women’s history.
A publication 'Field Notes' accompanied the exhibition and featured commissioned texts by Jacqueline Cahif and Maria Fusco.
Top of page: ‘Field Notes’ 2018 (20x15 cm oil on copper)
Above: ‘Red Cross' 2018 (10x10 cm oil on copper)
Below: ‘Operating Theatre’ 2018 (20x15 cm oil on copper)