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10 Feb 2023

Canna stars in exhibition exploring pioneering women photographers

Eun Bheag (Little Bird)


A little bird blown off course is how she described herself.
A bird by the name of Margaret Fay Shaw of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
who alit in a tiny glen in South Uist in 1929
to collect stories and songs so fine,
to find her life, to find her smile,
beyond her thrills and fancies of bells and bow ties, to finely dine, to finally shine.

It was there she found her nest, in Gleann na [Gaelic word] -- the Glen of Muses --
with Peigi and Mairi as mentors to guide her way.

[Gaelic speech]

Uist to Barra, Eriskay and Lewis,
St Kilda, Nova Scotia and then to Canna.
In fields and flora, cat and cattle
hill and hearth, bird and butterfly,
her eye caught it all.

With whispers of song, to Earth they fall.
With wet feet and her Graflex camera at her side,
she knows now she kept for the future
the stories that tie.

Canna House archivist Fiona Mackenzie created this short film to represent Margaret Fay Shaw in the Glean exhibition.

The exhibition features 125 photographs, 8 films and 35 related artefacts by 14 women who worked in Scotland in the early 20th century. It aims to show how the women responded with their cameras to life in Scotland’s rural communities, cities and beyond.

The exhibition was curated by Jenny Brownrigg, Exhibitions Director at The Glasgow School of Art, in partnership with City Art Centre in Edinburgh. It is open daily until Sunday 12 March.

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