Kirsty Logan talks about her first visual art piece commissioned by Glasgow Women’s Library to celebrate their 21st Birthday.

Image of Kirsty Logan © Jean Donaldson

To celebrate its 21st birthday, Glasgow Women’s Library commissioned 21 professional artists and writers (all female, all Scottish) to create new work inspired by items in the library archives. I’m a fiction writer and had never created visual art before, but something about the security of a commission and a brief made me feel able to branch out. I thought what the hell and decided to do something visual.

When I started poking around in the archives, I became fascinated by the women’s magazines of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. Along with the rest of the Western world I’d been watching Mad Men, and I’ve also long been a fan of Graham Rawle’s 2005 book Woman’s World. So, inspired by all of these, I photocopied pages from magazines and started to use them to create a cut-out story, in the style of a ransom note.

The problem, I soon discovered, was that the adverts did not have any verbs. Apparently, women in the 1930s-50s were only allowed to appear a certain way – they weren’t supposed to DO anything. In order to find some ‘doing words’, I had to go back to the library and photocopy girls’ annuals (the 1950s equivalent of Bunty) and recipe books of the period. Apparently, women were allowed to do things when they were young, as children; and when they were older, as housewives and matrons – but not in between.

This is Liberty by Kirsty Logan © Glasgow Women’s Library

After many days spent faffing around with glue sticks and tiny bits of paper, I was done. The final product is 4-page story, titled THIS IS LIBERTY, about a female prizefighter. The completed work will be on display, along with the other 20 pieces, at the Glasgow Women’s Library until September 2012.

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The exhibition of the 21 women artists (21 Revolutions) will take place in the Intermedia Gallery at the CCA from 22nd September (the launch is 6pm, 21st September). The 21 writers’ work, including ‘This Is Liberty’, will be shown at a parallel exhibition of the writers’ texts and their sources at the Glasgow Women’s Library from Saturday 22nd (launch from 2pm). The new work by the 21 writers will also be released as free audio podcasts from September.


See more blogs by artists here.