While statues have been making headlines recently, concerning the Black Lives Matter movement, one aspect that has caught the eye of Edinburgh residents is the lack of statues featuring prominent women around the city.
However, some have highlighted four statue heads at Lochside Crescent that celebrate Scottish Literary greats, and in particular busts of Jackie Kay and Naomi Mitchison. The other heads are of Norman MacCraig and William Sydney (WS) Graham.
Jackie Kay is currently Scotland’s national poet or makar. She told of being “beaten up quite a lot” while growing up due to her mixed heritage, as her mother is Scottish and her father is Nigerian. She was adopted by a Scottish couple and raised in Glasgow. Kay is sculpted by Michael Snowden.
In 2012, she highlighted the racism in football in a poem titled “Hear My Pitch” which tells of Arthur Wharton, the first black professional footballer to play in the UK. He was born in Ghana, and his father was half-Scottish and half-Grenadian.
He first came to England in 1882 and played for Sheffield United by 1894. Jackie read her poem on the pitch before a match at Sheffield’s ground in 2012. The team are proud supporters of the Kick It Out campaign that works to tackle all forms of racism and discrimination.
Naomi Mitchison was a controversial Scottish author, most well known for The Corn King and the Spring Queen, published in 1931, a novel full of history, folklore, and magic. Her sculpture is by Archie Forrest.
In 1932 she was commissioned to write a guide for children and parents for the modern world, which become An Outline for Boys and Girls and Their Parents. Critics loved it, but conservatives and religious leaders condemned the book for alleged Soviet leanings and a lack of emphasis on God and religion.
She also authored We Have Been Warned, which was published in 1935. Its depiction of rape, free love and abortion horrified and alienated many in polite society.
Both these women made brae statements about society, and so it is fitting they are remembered.
Who would you immortalise from the world of literature? If you need a stone sculptor in Tunbridge Wells, get in touch!