The Unmaking of Mary Somerville
Mary Fairfax Somerville (1780 – 1872), astronomer, scientist, mathematician, from the portrait by Thomas Phillips, 1834 located in the Out of the Shadow exhibition in Gallery Nine.
We meet an imagined Mary, made-up and unmade by the light of the present day. Surrounded by the once-untouchable tools of her trade – books, star-charts, geometry diagrams – she shows us what she’s been busy making while we were looking elsewhere. How is a life observed? How is it measured? Can we ever look back, or forward or truly be present? Mary invites us to imagine what we might also make of ourselves, whether lit by the sun or the moon or what the shadows afford us.
With many thanks to: Stellar Quines and the National Portrait Gallery for such a wonderful opportunity; especially Lesley Anne Rose, Mary Paulson-Ellis and Danni Bastian for their constant support and expertise; Sarah Barron; Sarah Jeffcott; Judith Doherty; Helen McCook; and my fellow artists for their friendship, advice and inspiration.
The Unmaking of Mary Somerville is performed by Sarah Barron.
Rebecca Sharp is a writer from Glasgow. Her guiding interest is in exploring the intersections between ideas and artistic practice, creating innovative projects, often in collaboration with other artists. Her own practice regularly extends beyond writing to include directing, producing and performing. Her work reflects a wide range of interests and influences: storytelling and folklore, landscape and map-making, ideas of North, archaeology, the voice and multiple voices, memory, reverberation and layering, absence and presence – and a pervading interest in the interconnectivity of all these things.
Plays include Last Child (Arches Glasgow, 2001; HERE Arts Center NYC, 2002) and Danger: Hollow Sidewalk (Arches Glasgow, 2006). As artist-in-residence with Metal Liverpool in 2009-2010, she created The Ballad of Juniper Davy and Sonny Lumière, a series of poems with original score, a book, CD and run of site-specific performances. Fathoming: setting poetry to silk is a series of poems and silk objects with artist Eva Fulinova, exhibited at the Bluecoat, Liverpool in 2010. Little Forks / Forcan Beaga (2012, ongoing) has been supported by Creative Scotland, the Gaelic Books Council and the Highland Council as a live literature performance and book, which continues to tour in English and Gaelic. Unmapped is a series of poems and paintings with artist Anna King, which exhibited at StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival and at the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts Gallery in 2013.
- Website: www.rebeccajoysharp.com
Sarah trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS). Her theatre experience includes: South Cumburgh Green (The Arches, Glasgow), Healing Waters (RCS at The Traverse, Edinburgh), At The End of The End (The Arches, Glasgow), All’s Well That Ends Well (RCS); The Winter’s Tale (The /Globe/RCS); The Shakespeare Revue (New End Theatre, London); A Christmas Carol (Antic Disposition); and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Bloomsbury Theatre London and French tour). Sarah has also recorded a number of audio books including When the Devil Drives by Chris Brookmyre and The Dead Won’t Sleep by Anna Smith.