Blog

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm – watch online

Click image to watch on YouTube.

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm

The story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, the animated story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society, as told by The Orkney News is now available to watch online on YouTube.

Campaigning for women to have the right to vote took place from the latter half of the 19th Century up to the start of the First World War. Orcadian suffragists were part of that activism.

Researched and scripted by Fiona Grahame, the hand-painted animation by Martin Laird is stylised to make some reference to the world of 20th century art. The artist Stanley Cursiter was associated with the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society, having designed its banner and married Phyllis Hourston, one of its members. The design of characters and locations was derived from period photos.

The narration by Orcadian Kim Foden is upbeat and enthusiastic. The original score by James Watson sets the perfect tempo for the flow of the animation.

The animation was made possible with an award from the Scottish Government’s Centenary Fund which supported projects celebrating 100 years of some women gaining the right to vote.

Fiona Grahame is the editor of The Orkney News, which is free to read online at https://theorkneynews.scot

Find James Watson on Facebook at Wooden Sole Music https://facebook.com/woodensolemusic/

Thank you to the staff at the Phoenix Cinema at the Pickaquoy Centre, who made it possible for A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm to premiere on the big screen in Kirkwall. It was shown alongside a week of films celebrating women in cinema, to coincide with International Women’s Day on the 8th of March 2019.

Still from A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, the animated story of the Orcadian Woman's Suffrage Society, showing artist Stanley Cursiter with Phyllis Hourston
The artist Stanley Cursiter with Phyllis Hourston

Hoy

Photographs of Hoy

Photographs of Hoy taken in March 2019, on a bicycle trip to Rackwick. Although the weather was mild for the time of year, there were heavy and unpredictable downpours, and it was very windy on the clifftops at Rora Head and the Old Man of Hoy.

Animation premiere at the Phoenix Cinema

poster for A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, the story of the Orcadian Woman's Suffrage Society. Showing at the Phoenix Cinema in the Pickaquoy Centre, Kirkwall, alongside selected films from 5th to 11th of March.
‘A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm’ launch poster

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm premiere

International Women’s Day 2019 is on the 8th of March. To coincide with this the Phoenix Cinema at the Pickaquoy Centre in Kirkwall will be showing a week of films featuring female leads and directors.

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, the animated story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society as told by The Orkney News, will be shown before these selected films. It premieres alongside Can You Ever Forgive Me, which stars Melissa McCarthy and Richard E Grant, and was directed by Marielle Heller.

Thank you to the staff at the Pickaquoy Centre who have made it possible to see the animation on the big screen. Thanks also to the Scottish Government Centenary Fund, without whom this project would not have happened.

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm – a forthcoming animation

Still from A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, the animated story of the Orcadian Woman's Suffrage Society, showing artist Stanley Cursiter with Phyllis Hourston
The artist Stanley Cursiter with Phyllis Hourston

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, the animated story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society, is now all but complete. It will be available soon.

The story, which is largely forgotten and previously untold, was researched and written by Fiona Grahame of The Orkney News. Narration was provided by Kim Foden, with a moving musical score by James Watson.

Campaigning for women to have the right to vote took place from the latter half of the 19th Century, up to the start of the First World War. Orcadian suffragists were part of that activism.

The artist Stanley Cursiter was associated with the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society. He designed their banner (of which sadly only a written description survives), and married Phyllis Hourston, a member of the society.

This artistic connection served as an inspiration for the animation. The intention was to make a moving painting. As such, all the art was hand painted in gouache on watercolour paper. It was then photographed, digitally collaged, and animated on a computer.

This animation project has been a joy to work on. Thanks especially to The Scottish Government Centenary Fund, without whom it would not have been possible.

Gammon is Great

Two pigs in yellow vests beating up a black sheep which a grinning skeleton in a top hat looks on. Gammon is Great.
Pineapple Gammons in the Banana Kakistocracy. Gouache and black ink, 2019.

Pineapple Gammons in the Banana Kakistocracy

Gammon is Great! Pineapple Gammons in yellow vests take back control of the Great Banana United Kakistocracy, under the approving gaze of a Skeleton Lord.

Kakistocracy is defined as government by the worst people.

The Banana Kakistocracy is an undemocratic totalitarian state run by incompetent psychopaths with delusional levels of self-confidence. It is a low wage, low productivity economy which has dismantled its social security system and manufacturing base, and sold off publicly owned assets. Prime industries are now tax evasion, weapons dealing, and financial crime.

Four legs good, two legs better.

George Orwell, Animal Farm

Stromness

A view of Stromness from Cairston with the setting sun glowing behind a gap inteh clouds behind the hills of Hoy.
Setting December sun over Stromness & the Hoy hills

The great #Stromhole in the sky, fed by burning farm plastic.

The Patron Saint of Cringe

St Andrew is crucified on a saltire. A Roman legionary says "He said a crucifix was too good for him", to which another replies "Christ Almighty!". An evil cherubic Britannia hovers over Andrew with a trident and Union-flag shield. Caption reads "The Patron Saint of Cringe."
The Patron Saint of Cringe. Cartoon for the November 2018 edition of iScot magazine. Pen, ink & gouache.

Andrew: the patron saint of Scottish Cringe

This cartoon was created to accompany the Orkney News article in the November 2018 edition of iScot magazine. The article is about St Andrew’s Fair Saturday 2018, which is a day of events promoting positive social change throughout the world. It is a response to the unsustainable consumerism embodied by Black Friday.

According to Biblical legend, Roman senator Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus sentenced Andrew the Apostle to death by crucifixion in Achaea (Greece). Andrew supposedly didn’t feel himself worthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus Christ, and the fair-minded Lucius had him bound to an X-shaped cross (crux decussata) instead.

Centuries later, Óengus mac Fergusa, King of the Picts, is said to have selected the saltire as the emblem of Scotland following a successful battle against the Angles (and a vision of the crux decussata in the sky).

Having its roots in a story about St. Andrew’s feelings of unworthiness, the saltire seems an appropriate symbol for a people afflicted by the ‘Scottish cringe‘. Many a self-proclaimed Proud Scot resists the idea the people of Scotland have the wit or resources to govern themselves

Woman’s Suffrage Exhibition at Northlight Gallery

Woman’s Suffrage: A Work In Progress

Woman's Suffrage: A Work in Progress. Artwork from the upcoming animated short "A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm." Exhibition at the Northlight Gallery in Stromness from December 1st to 6th.
Woman’s Suffrage: A Work in Progress. Exhibition poster.

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm

In December, production artwork for an upcoming animation will be on display at the Northlight Gallery in Stromness. This work was created for a short film from The Orkney News called A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm. Researched and written by Fiona Grahame, it tells the largely forgotten story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society. The project received funding from the Scottish Government’s Centenary Fund celebrating 100 years of women having the vote.

The Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society was a peaceful, non-party political organisation, open to both men and women. The title of the animation, A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, comes from one of the banner slogans which the Suffragists used on marches.

This exhibition is taking place in association with St. Andrew’s Fair Saturday. Fair Saturday falls on the last Saturday of November (following the consumerist Black Friday). A wide variety of events in support of positive social change are taking place across the globe. The events calendar can be viewed on the Fair Saturday website (link).

This event will also be raising funds in support of the Orkney Rape & Sexual Assault Service.

The exhibition runs from the 1st to the 6th of December 2108 at the Northlight Gallery, and will be open from 10am – 4pm daily, including Sunday.

Happy Valley – tribute to Edwin Harrold

Edwin Harrold riding his bicycle fast with his pet rook flying beside. Plants grow in his wake and a little boy waves at him.
Edwin Harrold, 1907-2005. Creator of Happy Valley. Pen, ink & gouache, 2018

A tribute to Edwin Harrold

Cartoon created for The Orkney News column in the July 2018 edition of iScot magazine, written by Fiona Grahame.

The quote, “What you don’t have, you don’t miss,” comes from an interview with Edwin Harrold’s former neighbour Ruby Spence, as outlined here.

Edwin Harrold was by all accounts quite a character. He lived a simple life at Bankburn Cottage off Bigswell Road, Stenness, in the West Mainland of Orkney. There he re-routed the Russadale Burn to power a small hydro-electric system to cover his modest electrical needs.

The area around Edwin’s house was landscaped to create a small woodland escape of a kind which is uncommon in Orkney. Visitors were welcome, and the magical-sounding Happy Valley no doubt left a lasting impression on many a young Orcadian.

Happy Valley is now maintained by the Friends of Happy Valley, a charitable organisation.

For more on Edwin Harrold’s life and work, read this months iScot magazine.

Pilgrimage to Egilsay

Pilgrimage to Egilsay

Egilsay is a small, sparsely populated island in Orkney, where the people seem to be heavily outnumbered by the horse-flies. There are a few small farms which face an uncertain future as Brexit threatens the EU farming subsidies they depend on for survival. Part of Egilsay is a protected habitat for the Corncrake, and this has also received EU funding.

It was on Egilsay that the peaceful, kind Magnus Erlendsson was murdered by his violent cousin Haakon Paulsson in a power struggle over the Earldom of Orkney. Magnus was killed around 1116AD, and canonised in 1136AD – a short turnaround for sainthood. St Magnus Church was built in his honour sometime in the 12th Century, possibly on the site of an older church. With a distinctive round tower, it is the dominant landmark on Egilsay.

An obelisk marks the site of Magnus’ execution, on a grassy sward not far from the church which was supposedly a barren landscape before his death. It is surrounded by fields of nesting birds. Signposts bearing the symbol of the St. Magnus Way mark access. The majority of pilgrims have four legs.

Further reading:

Threat to Scottish Farming as the UK Government is Set to Take Back Control, via the Orkney News

The St. Magnus way website


Selected photo prints are for sale. Visit the online store here: https://martinlaird.scot/store/.