This new musical composition and film from Catriona Macdonald, Shona Main and Angelica Kroeger will view Unst-born Jessie M. E. Saxby as a woman, writer, folklorist and mother through the lens of contemporary female creative practice. Enjoy this new piece created as part of Refresh Now, Shetland Arts' series of commissions for April.
"'Wildie' was the pet name given to Jessie by her father Laurence Edmondston, when she grew up in the house and gardens of Halligarth, Baltasound, Unst. Jessie moved away to the Scottish mainland, for the benefit of her husband Dr Henry Saxby's health, and after his early and untimely death, she lived in Edinburgh with her surviving children, for most of her adult life.
However, before she left Unst, Jessie experienced, like many other women of the period the loss of a much-loved child: their only daughter Laura, 'Lalla'. Extraordinarily, unlike many other mothers of this time Saxby was able to articulate her own grief and loss via her own creative practice, writing an intimate portrayal of her child's death in her 1875 book ' The One Wee Lassie'.
Jessie returned to Unst in 1898, to her final home 'Wulvers Hool' which was built in direct view of Halligarth and Lalla's resting place. Her final written works foreground her lifelong interest in Shetland folklore and cultural heritage, and I hope that this new creative work based on themes of her lived experiences will further elevate her as an important female figure in the cultural history of our islands." (Catriona MacDonald)
The piece will also be available to view online via Shetland Arts' social media pages from 21.04.21.