African mother and child sculpture finds a home
at leading Aberdeen women’s health research unit
A unique African sculpture of a mother and child has been presented to the Dugald Baird Centre for Women’s Health at the University of Aberdeen thanks to a group of big-hearted students.
Motherland, a stunning piece sculpted from Green Serpentine Stone, was designed specially for the University by a small, newly-established arts project based in the African village of Mukaera, in Zimbabwe, after a team of eight students spent five weeks carrying out environmental work in the nearby village of Chipangura.
Humanitarian Educational Long-Term Projects (HELP), a student group set up at the University in 1990, has visited the village on several occasions over the past few years to carry out several important environmental projects. These have included planting 1,500 trees on communal land, installing toilet facilities, a water pump in the school and completing structural work on a dam, which was originally built in 1994.
As a result, John Leon, Director of the Makaera Art Project, based near Chipangura, designed Motherland as a gift for the HELP group as a way of saying thank you for all their help.
The statue now has pride of place at the University’s Dugald Baird Centre, which is based at the Maternity Hospital.
Centre Director Dr Wendy Graham said: “This magnificent sculpture of mother and child is a fitting reminder to us and to visitors to the Centre of the communities in sub-Saharan Africa with whom we working. Our research seeks to improve the health of mothers and babies both in the poorer parts of the world as well as here in Scotland. We are honoured to provide a home for this work of art.”
HELP group volunteer Rob Small, who is studying Tropical Environmental Science in the University’s Department of Plant and Soil Science, said he was delighted that the statue had found a permanent home in such an appropriate part of the University.
“It was great to receive such a magnificent gift, from the community which we worked in, for a project that our group found so rewarding. Hopefully it will go some way to enhancing links between the University and HELP's projects in Zimbabwe."
The Dugald Baird Centre was launched in May 1995, to conduct high quality research for the improvement of the reproductive health and health care of women in Scotland and internationally. It is named after Sir Dugald Baird, one of the most distinguished and inspirational figures in the University of Aberdeen’s impressive history of research on reproductive health.
PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: Dr Graham and Rob Small will be available for interview and photo opportunity with the statue at 2.30pm on Thursday, January 27, 2000, at the Dugald Baird Centre, Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, off Cornhill Road. For further information, please contact Alison Ramsay, University Press Officer on (01224) 273778.