Work by Catherine Gowthorpe :: Poem by Gerda Stevenson

textile art


Isobel Emslie Hutton CBE, born Edinburgh, 1887, where she later studied medicine; brought up near the Ochil Hills; died London, 1960; doctor and psychiatrist; awarded the Serbian Order of the White Eagle for services with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in WWI; a trailblazer in mental health; worked privately at a time when the Marriage Bar made it impossible for women to practise their professions.

From Quines by Gerda Stevenson

Artist’s statement

The imagery in this poem appealed to me on first reading. I very much liked the relaxed humour of the gravedigger, the ‘skull inside a skull’ image and the pleasure of using the Latin medical terms for parts of the skull. I thought long and hard about how to render an appropriate image and decided eventually that there was no getting away from the central idea and image of the skull.

I rarely use machine embroidery but found that in this case, it was appropriate. The skull is drawn in rayon threads which reflect the light so that the skull gleams out from its dark surrounding.

The process of producing this piece made me reflect steadily upon death, a reflection which I have found to be particularly valuable and appropriate over the last few months in 2020.