Posted by: bschutzgruber | June 1, 2014

The Great Tapestry of Scotland

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While visiting Aberdeen, Scotland this spring I was able to see an amazing tapestry exhibit – The Great Tapestry of Scotland.  This tapestry is composed of 163 hand embroidered panels, each 1 metre square, depicting the history of Scotland… from the Ice Age to the beginning of the 21st Century.

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The project was initiated by author Alexander McCall Smith, historian Alistair Moffat and artist Andrew Crummy.  Dorie Wilkie coordinated over 1,000 volunteer stitchers, of all ages and abilities, from every part of Scotland, who put in over 65,000 hours to hand stitch 300 miles of wool thread onto Scottish linen to create the world’s longest tapestry – 143 metres/156 yards.

Andrew Crummy’s design work is amazing – as you can see from the details found in the different sections on the opening panel.  (Color distortions are due to my camera and no flash allowed in the exhibit.)

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As he designed the main images for the panels – he also left sections open so that each group of stitchers could add their own individual touches to truly make this one of the biggest community arts projects ever to take place in Scotland.  Many of the stitch groups signed the bottom right corner of their panel.

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In the middle of the exhibit – I watched local stitchers work on a panel, inspired by this project, depicting the city of Aberdeen

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and was able to actually touch samples of  the linen and the stitch work used.

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The Great Tapestry of Scotland website has detailed information, background and history of the project, samples of the embroidery stitches used, a fabulous slide show of all the panels, plus an audio file telling the story of the making of the tapestry…. which I’ve been able to listen to while watching the slide show by having both windows open!

The exhibit it currently in Paisley (that panel was stitched at the town’s Thread Mill Museum by former mill girls) until June 8th.  It will continue to tour Scotland through the end of November with hopes to bringing it internationally.

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