GWL’s Women in the Landscape project aims to reveal, to celebrate and to preserve women’s stories, experiences and environmental heritage. We called on women from all backgrounds and intersections of identity throughout Scotland to help us think about how we experienced our surroundings and environments, and women’s historical and contemporary contributions to them. We ran workshops, gathered oral histories and, with the help of women around Scotland and GWL interns and volunteers, compiled a list of resources which anyone can access through our website. The list is a real treasure trove – a guide to the very best poetry, fiction, non-fiction and video/film from women about our historical and contemporary relationship with the landscape. Much of the list is to be found in GWL’s library collections, which at the moment we can’t access, but you will be able to find some of these items at your favourite online bookstore. If not, there’s also a section for online articles and also for video/film, which you can click and enjoy right now.
Here are some recommendations from GWL staff and volunteers:
I’d recommend Findings by Kathleen Jamie. My mum gave it to me for Christmas; I started it over the holidays and found myself thinking about it the other day and returning to it. It’s a series of essays about her surroundings, mostly nature, birds and the outdoors but also family everyday things. It’s so perfect for my current headspace where being forced to slow down, with much less distracting me from my immediate environment, I’m noticing it and its beauty so much more. Jamie pays such close attention to everything that surrounds her and writes with so much care that you’re compelled to be as attentive to her words. (Mattie)
I’m very excited to read Amanda Thomson’s A Scots Dictionary of Nature after hearing her speak about the book at an event in the Library last year where she talked about how words can reveal histories of a place. The Dictionary is a celebration of “traditional Scots words, which reveal ways of seeing and being in the world that are in danger of disappearing forever” (Saraband).
Amanda writes: “Eard-fast means a stone or boulder fixed firmly in the earth, or simply, deep rooted in the earth, and it’s a word that seems to get to the heart of this book. It resonates with ideas of place and belonging, makes me think of deep connections to places and particular landscapes and makes me consider how language can assist or be at the root of such connections.” You can learn more about the book here: https://booksfromscotland.com/2018/09/a-scots-dictionary-of-nature/
Because of how little time I am spending outside, I am wanting more and more to find the ‘right’ words for what I see and experience on my walks. I’m trying to identify the names of yellow plants by the river and the songs of birds. Now, more than ever, I want the words I’m using to evoke the places I’ve been and I can’t wait to step inside Amanda’s book and be immersed in this record and celebration of Scots language. (Emily)
I watched Philippines – women & climate change. This less than 5min film highlights that women are at the frontline of the impact on climate change. It highlights how mobilising and educating women are key ways of tackling environmental mistakes made by previous generations.
I’ve also listened to Mothers of invention. Season 2, Episode 6 Jugglers of time (around 40min). This is a funny, challenging and informative discussion based podcast, with influential women from around the world. In this episode they discuss air pollution, reducing emissions and women’s innovative ways they have been empowered to use solar technology. (Jo)
One of my own favourites is Pauline Prior-Pitt’s North Uist Sea Poems – a breath of air and salt water straight in from the Atlantic. Although we can’t access this book during lockdown, you can get a taste of some of the poems on Pauline’s website: http://www.pauline-prior-pitt.com/2017/05/20/extracts-from-north-uist-sea-poems/
Huge thanks are due to Rebecca who pioneered the early stages of the Women in the Landscape project, to Jeanette, GWL intern who first compiled and organised the resource list and to volunteer Rudie for extensive updating and checking. We hope you find the resource list useful and would love to hear what your favourite is. Let us know on Twitter @womenslibrary or in the comments below this blog.