A new exhibition has opened in Dumfries Museum celebrating the lives of ‘The Women of Dumfries’ through the themes of Art, Suffrage, Temperance and War. The exhibition focuses on the years 1850-1950, a time when the lives of women were changing and more women entered the public sphere.
By focusing on individual women’s lives and objects they created or used, the exhibition shares some hitherto little know or hidden histories. A painting of Dr Flora Murray, a pioneering surgeon and Suffragette, is on display alongside that of her partner in life and work, Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson. “We are so pleased that this painting, which now features on the £100 Bank of Scotland note is on display in Dumfries for the first time” commented Councillor Ian Blake, Chair of the Communities Directorate. “Flora Murray was born in Dalton and it is great to see this LBGT icon being celebrated in Dumfries and Galloway.”
The museum team have been able to bring out objects from their stores such as the fantastic British Women’s Temperance Association banner from 1895 and also augment the exhibition with loans from local families and organisations. One key supporter has been the Murray family who have loaned letters that Dr Flora Murray wrote to her brother, William Murray, in 1922. William was the local MP and he was encouraging Flora to stand for Parliament – regrettably, this was not something she was able to do.
Another family who have supported the exhibition is that of Chris and Nan Fergusson. Mother and daughter were both talented artists and the exhibition features several of their paintings as well as objects made by Chris when she studied at Glasgow School of Art. “These beautiful pieces showcase not only these women as artists,” commented Councillor Jackie McCamon, Vice Chair of the Communities Directorate, “but also their lives as women in Dumfries. Chris was actively interested in the campaign for women to have the vote, she was a founder member of the D&G Fine Arts Society, a businesswoman who ran a studio in the town and taught at the Maxwelltown Convent.”
The exhibition celebrates the variety of women’s experiences from girlhood to adulthood, from women in holy orders to unconventional women living life in unexpected ways. A series of events is planned throughout the year to enhance the exhibition. The first is on April 29th and 30th when On War Service Living History Group will be demonstrating medical practices from World War One with nurses, doctors, a field operating bed and various items for visitors to interact with.
The exhibition is free to visit within Dumfries Museum during opening hours. It is open until January 2024.
For more details, see: https://www.dgculture.co.uk/event/the-women-of-dumfries-art-suffrage-temperance-and-war/