FraeNaewhere are Samara MacLaren, Nalini Chetty & Emily Tracey
Blazing Crimson (Female Extreme Cunning and the Muse of History)
From our very first tour of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery our experience felt akin to a treasure hunt. We were seeking lost rubies – the women of the gallery. We found them on the walls, but also in drawers, hidden under covers and in cabinets. Looking for them and finding them, discovering who they were, why they were there was fascinating and, for us, even more so, were those women who were unnamed, unknown or only represented in part. There were many women and yet so few.
We wanted to pick a few women who exemplified that experience and our piece found a focal point when we discovered the plaster head of a woman in the library exhibited as part of the Phrenology collection. (The practice of phrenology was popular with scientists in Edinburgh in the mid- 19thcentury and concerned the study of a person’s skull to determine their psychological attributes.) The woman depicted was titled Female Extreme Cunning and we felt the language of “extreme” and “cunning” was both telling and powerful. Placed among murderers and curios, her story unknown, we wanted to give her life and pairing her with a recently divorced, newly empowered Muse of History, whose flawless effigy can be seen on the front of the Gallery building, we had our XX coup ready.
The phrenology head Female Extreme Cunning is located in the Library and the statue of the Muse of History is located on the outside of the building above the Gallery’s entrance.
Samara is a Scottish actress trained at LAMDA, who has worked across theatre and television, most notably playing Connie in BBC Four’s critically acclaimed biographical drama Walter’s War. She has also appeared in Merlin, Lip Service, Doctors and Leasan sa Bhas (A Lesson in Death) all for the BBC and her theatre work includes Twelfth Night (Perth), Swifter, Higher, Stronger (Roundhouse), The Notebook of Trigorin (Finborough), The Fitzrovia Radio Hour (Gilded Balloon and UK tour) and Puellae at Summerhall which she also produced and developed. She holds an MA in Philosophy and Social Anthropology from The University of St Andrews.
Nalini studied Drama at the department of Drama (Theatre, Film and Television) at The University of Bristol, before training as an actor BSA Birmingham and The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
She first performed professionally the world premiere of David Greig’s hugely successful Yellow Moon for the Citizen Theatre/TAG. She has been delighted since to perform with renowned Scottish companies such as the National Theatre of Scotland/ Oran Mor in The Archivist, The Traverse Theatre Edinburgh in Impossible Things Before Breakfast/ This is Water Theatre, Magnetic North in After Mary Rose and Ankur Productions in Heer Ranjha.
Nalini has played regular character Zinnie Hassoun in BBC Scotland’s River City since 2011. Her previous television credits include the role of Indira Cave in Justice for LA Productions/BBC and Delkash Mammood in Taggart – Fresh Kills for STV.
To date Nalini has written several plays which have been performed professionally including Puellae for Sumerhall 2012, Finding Noor for the Citizens Theatre/ Ankur productions 2013 and The Otherside for A Moment’s Peace 2013. Her directing credits include Puellae 2013, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and A Streetcar Named Desire both for UBU. She is currently working on a piece for The Citizen’s Theatre main stage production Sports Day.
Emily is an Architectural Historian and Building Stones Conservation Specialist at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh. In this role, she provides expertise on architectural history and theory, building conservation practices and technologies, building stone condition and maintenance issues, and relevant current policies of government and heritage conservation organisations. Emily is also a Co-Director of Hidden Door Arts Production—a not-for-profit organisation established in 2010 with an aim to develop a platform for delivering the arts to the general public through events that create an exciting, innovative and high-impact audience experience. Further information about the latest Hidden Door event in March 2014 can be found here: hiddendoorblog.org
Emily came to Edinburgh in 2006 from Connecticut, USA to study Architectural Conservation at Edinburgh University. Prior to her Master’s degree, she taught fine art to children with learning disabilities and was the Artistic Set Designer at a theatre production company called Creative Experiences. In her free time, she is also a passionate photographer who develops her own black & white prints.