Nov 18 2021

Isabella’s Footsteps

4pm 18th November 2021

“Isabella and the Emperor: Isabella’s Footsteps”
Watch the video above of this British Sign Language interpreted celebration of
Marine Biologist Dr Isabella Gordon (1901-1988)

Principal Crustacea Curator at NHM, Miranda Lowe, has just celebrated 30 years in the post previously occupied by Dr Isabella Gordon. Their connections in life and science are explored in a cross-disciplinary collaboration with Science Historian Catherine Booth, ELECTRIC VOICE THEARE and the Voices for the Future VIRTUAL CHOIR.  

This unique presentation, interweaving talks, images and music, also celebrates the 60th anniversary of Dr Gordon’s trailblazing visit to Japan to meet fellow scientist Emperor Hirohito in honour of his 60th birthday.

Part of the series Marine Biology Live by the Marine Biological Association

Catherine Booth – Science Historian and retired Science Curator, National Library of Scotland
Miranda Lowe – Principal Curator (Crustacea) and museum scientist at the Natural History Museum

MUSIC:  – performed by Electric Voice Theatre and the Voices for the Future VIRTUAL CHOIR

“Lobsters & Limericks” (Nov 2021 World Premiere) by Frances M Lynch for mixed voices and instruments; Limericks by Frances M Lynch based on published papers by Dr Isabella Gordonresearched by Catherine Booth, scientific advisor Miranda Lowe.

“The Grand Old Lady of Carcinology” (May 15th 2021)  by Frances M Lynch for acapella vocal quartet; Limericks by Frances M Lynch, Dr A.J. Bateman & Dr Isabella Gordon.

“The March of the Women of Science” an adaptation of “The March of the Cameron Men” by  Mary Maxwell Campbell (1812-1886);arranged by Frances M Lynch & Herbie Clarke (Minerva Scientifica (2017)) for acapella voices.

“Voices for the Future”  seeks to discover, honour, and promote female voices past and present and to inspire, guide and build diverse VOICES FOR THE FUTURE.

“Marine Biology Live”, is a series of regular online talks and performance events organised by the Marine Biological Association, covering a range of current marine biology topics by MBA members, researchers and invited guests. TO BOOK CLICK HERE

From humble beginnings in Keith, Moray, Scotland, Dr Isabella Gordon (1901-1988) working at the British Museum (Natural History) had become one of the world’s most respected scientists in carcinology, the study of crustaceans.
In 1961, Japanese scientists wanted to celebrate the 60th birthday of Emperor Hirohito, an enthusiastic marine biologist. They invited Dr Gordon to be an honoured guest for the occasion.  In both countries, memories of war were still raw, so such an invitation was extremely unusual. Dr Gordon had a personal informal discussion with the Emperor, met with distinguished scientists, and became the only non-Japanese Founder Member of the Carcinological Society of Japan.

This is the Imperial Seal of Japan (CC) which represents a chrysanthemum flower. These were planted in a hurry for the visit of Emperor Hirohito to the Natural History Museum in October 1971, and removed elsewhere immediately afterwards! 

To find out more about Isabella Gordon please go to her page on the Minerva Scientifica Website or listen to our PODCAST EPISODE 19: Isabella and the Emperor from the series “Women of Science & Music: 30 celebrations”

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Created by electric voice theatre, Minerva Scientifica is a project that brings together professional performers with community musicians and school children. Together, we raise awareness of the rich heritage and deep connections between music and science, and inspire the next generation of future scientists.