Jacqueline Donachie’s fantastic new artworks ELSIE, IRENE and JESSIE commissioned by Trails & Tales have been sited in 3 East Dunbartonshire locations, Lenzie, Lennoxtown and Westerton. The large-scale artworks made from powder coated aluminium and steel, commemorate the work of women in health and medicine who have associations with East Dunbartonshire – through education, working life or residence. As Jacqueline notes, ‘there are many stories locally, many tales, but there are few public dedications’. These works fill that void. Healthcare has long been a key ‘industry’ for this area, from the large psychiatric hospital that occupied the Woodilee site for generations to the care homes and doctor’s surgeries that pepper Lenzie, Kirkintilloch, Westerton, Bearsden and Milngavie now. ‘The mainstay of these workforces both then and now are women’, says Jacqueline.
Through a number of meetings with young women in EDC secondary schools and through word of mouth in the area, Jacqueline interviewed a wide range of women with an incredible range of life stories and professional knowledge. From this, and further archival research, the three permanent dedications were developed and formed in profile cut powder coated aluminium and steel. A list of 100 names of women were compiled that will be made public in a range of ways – signs, T-shirts, bags, and a small display in local libraries. With such a wide range of skills, experience and history going into this list, the names used for the sited works are a generic reference point using first names that appeared a number of times in the research, not a specific individual; a nod to just how many there are. Each of the sites have been chosen to allow the works to be ‘discovered’; tucked away on footpaths and local walking routes. ELSIE is sited at Westerton railway station, used by staff for Canniesburn Hospital before it closed in the 1990’s and is close to Westerton Care Home. IRENE, occupies the Lenzie site, in a small clearing under the route of the original Spider Bridge that connected Woodilee Hospital to Kirkintilloch, where, if you look nearby, two of the original leg bases remain. This bridge was used by many staff who lived in Kirkintilloch and worked at the hospital. And JESSIE – in vibrant yellow metal – is located near the grounds of the former Lennox Castle Hospital, where the John Muir way meets the Thomas Muir Way, at the bridge above the former railway line that is now a footpath. The site is a short walk from Whitefield Care Home.