a fair field and no favour

In 19th century Britain men and women inhabited, what was thought of at the time as, ‘separate spheres’. This gender ideology rested on a patriarchal model, where power and privilege were reserved for men. The idea of ‘natural’ male supremacy, with women considered physically and intellectually weaker and best suited to a domestic sphere. Educating women was not considered to have any value and opportunities for seeking employment limited.

separate spheres + enlightenment, sampler

separate spheres + enlightenment, sampler

When the young Sophia Jex-Blake decided to pursue a career as a doctor and applied to study medicine in 1869, she chose the University of Edinburgh for the city’s enlightened and liberal attitudes towards education.
Sophia did not seek preferential or special treatment for women who wished a university education but simply an equal opportunity to do so; ‘a fair field and no favour’

She received an initial rejection from the University Court, along with fierce opposition from many staff and students, on the grounds that the university could not make the necessary arrangements “in the interest of one lady”. Sophia therefore advertised in The Scotsman newspaper appealing for more women to join her, which they did. The Edinburgh Seven, as they would come to be known, successfully applied and became the first women to be matriculated to a British University.

Sophia Jex-Blake, Mary Anderson, Isabel Thorne, Edith Peachey, Emily Bovell, Matilda Chaplin and Helen Evans.

The women’s time at the University of Edinburgh went anything but smoothly. They had to arrange their own lectures, receive tuition in separate classes from men, pay higher fees, and as they demonstrated their abilities in their studies hostility towards them only grew. A defining moment in the women’s fight took place on 18 November 1870 as they arrived at Surgeons’ Hall to sit their anatomy exam. As they approached the building they were faced with a large angry crowd of students, and several hundred onlookers, who threw mud and rubbish as well as insults at the women. ‘The Surgeons’ Hall Riot’ was widely reported in the press, leading to increased awareness of the Edinburgh Seven and their fight for equality in education.

detail of central panel: significant buildings, hand embroidered

detail of central panel: significant buildings, hand embroidered

Discrimination from the university continued and in the end the women were unable to graduate in Edinburgh, instead travelling to Bern and Paris to gain their degrees. However, the campaign of the Edinburgh Seven, led by Sophia Jex-Blake, put the rights of women to a university education on the national political agenda. Legislation was put in place, the UK Medical Act 1876, to ensure women could study medicine at university. In 1894 the University of Edinburgh allowed women to graduate, with the first doctors graduating in 1896.


In this work I explore transitions and relationships between people and place, light and dark, patriarchy and domesticity, equality and inequality and how the collective power of enlightened women can brighten the fabric of society.

The fight for equality goes on to this day, with many women and girls across the world still without the right to an education. The campaign that these seven women began in Edinburgh in 1869, however, was a defining moment in the progress of equality.


a fair field and no favour, in situ, 2019

a fair field and no favour, in situ, 2019

Photography by Cadzow Pelosi


This work was commissioned by KPMG as part of the workplace transformation of their Saltire Court premises in Edinburgh.

My thanks to:

The wonderful women of Michael Laird Architects & Interior Design, Esther & Hazel, for their inspiration and enthusiasm from the very start of the project.

Dr Elaine Thomson of Napier University, for bringing her research to life. It was during Elaine’s talk on the history of women in medicine, that the images started to form in my head. I was also privileged to see a rehearsed reading of ‘Edinburgh 7’, a new musical being developed by Jordanna O’Neill, John and Martin Keilty, in which Elaine set the scene with her words.


The making of…

Hush

“HUSH - a quiet exploration of the Cowal Peninsula, in textiles”

My 2018 solo exhibition.

Immersing myself in a specific geographical location for extended periods of time. Observing, re-interpreting and communicating how I see colour and shape in the landscape.

Jane at the opening of  HUSH

Jane at the opening of HUSH

Sheared, Jane Hunter, 2018

Sheared, Jane Hunter, 2018

Shelter 1, 2 & 3, Jane Hunter, 2018

Shelter 1, 2 & 3, Jane Hunter, 2018

Shelter of the Kyles, Jane Hunter, 2018

Shelter of the Kyles, Jane Hunter, 2018

Rock Study 1, 2 & 3, Jane Hunter, 2018

Rock Study 1, 2 & 3, Jane Hunter, 2018

Narrows, Jane Hunter, 2018

Narrows, Jane Hunter, 2018

The promise of all that sea...

Sanday - The promise of all that sea, but anchored in the knowledge of a return home

Commissioned textile work. Referencing nautical charts, geological maps, the client’s own expeditions and the colours discovered on location.

The-Promise-of-all-that-sea-anchored-in-the-knowledge-of-a-return-home-Jane-Hunter-Art-Orkney.jpg

Hex

Initiated by gallerist, Rosalyn McKenna, I embarked on an exploration of the work of Jennifer Hex (1938 - 2016). Discovering similarities with how both she and I view and understand landscape and make our work.

Gott Bay Study 2, Jennifer Hex (image courtesy of The Argyll Collection)

Gott Bay Study 2, Jennifer Hex (image courtesy of The Argyll Collection)

Kilbride Bay Study 1, Jane Hunter 2018

Kilbride Bay Study 1, Jane Hunter 2018

Processes

Using colour and form to produce a study of earth forces which shape our landscape.

Process series, Jane Hunter, 2018

Process series, Jane Hunter, 2018

Paisley 2021

Book Cover Artwork: Paisley’s bid for City of Culture 2021.

Referencing the geology surrounding the White Cart River which forms the foundations of Paisley’s embroidery and thread mills, now repurposed. One of which houses my art studio.

Irvine Townhouse

For the re-opening of Irvine Townhouse to the public.

Commissioned by North Ayrshire Council.

Townscape, bordered by sea, bisected by river, combined with the inward and outward migration of significant historical figures who helped shape the town.

Full Finished Map from Front Door Irvine Townhouse.jpg
Public Art for local authority in Scotland North Ayrshire Council.jpg
Close Up - Irvine Map - Hand Embroidery 2.jpg
Close Up - Irvine Map - Hand Embroidery.jpg

The Marmalade

Perle Hotels Group have a commitment to sourcing interesting, ethical and local work to add character to their properties.

A series of textile island maps for each of the bedrooms in the beautifully renovated Marmalade Hotel, Portree, Isle of Skye.