Work by Annette Bruton :: Poem by Gerda Stevenson

Textile art

Horsehead Nebula Speaks

Williamina Paton Fleming, astronomer, born Dundee, 1857, died Boston, USA, 1911; received numerous international honours, including the Guadalupe Almendaro medal from the Astronomical Society of Mexico for her discovery of new stars; her name was eliminated from Harvard’s list of astronomical discoveries, denying her credit for discovering Horsehead Nebula.

From Quines by Gerda Stevenson

Artist’s statement

The poem ‘Horsehead Nebula Speaks’ conveys to me both the remoteness of space and the incredible science that led to us understanding some of the mysteries of the universe.   The beauty of the Horsehead Nebula and the shrouds of cloud around it are at once inspiring and humbling.   The life and work of Wilhelmina Fleming who discovered the nebula is remarkable and it was the essence of this clever and tenacious quine captured in the poem that inspired me to create this work.   I hope to convey a sense of the physical distance between Mina Fleming and the Horsehead Nebula but the closeness in spirit between the two.   Overlooked in the credit for this discovery, though since rectified, I wanted to pay tribute to the grace and strength of the discoverer and her discovery whilst recording, wryly, the gender politics of the scientific community.