Since 2009 I have been the designer for many tapestries. Working with a range of people. Getting panels ready for the stitchers to do their magic.
From The Great Tapestry of Scotland, Battle of Prestonpans, The Scottish Diaspora, Mount Felix, Declaration of Arbroath, Gordon Highlanders Tapestry, Kirkcaldy panel, Royal Midwives panel, Peoples' Panel, to the current tapestries that are all developing such as Renfrewshire, Cancer, Europe, Clackmannanshire, Battle of Pinkie, Allermuir, Craigmillar, Elphinstone Aberdeenshire, Dundee, George Watsons Ladies School and The Welcome panel for The GToS building at Galashiels.
What is emerging is a tapestry trail across Scotland and beyond. As with all Community arts it is very diverse. And there're other designers involved with other tapestries. But for this website I will just concentrate on my own work. Of course when The Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry was first launched there were others in the UK. It was not the first, but have helped to encourage others.
I am honoured and humbled that so many stitchers have transformed my drawings to another level; all the historians and experts who have contributed information: all those that helped with the planning and fundraising; all those that contributed ideas and drawings (in particular the tags); all who have traced the panels onto the linen; all those who have got the kits ready for the stitchers; all those who have stretched, blocked, backed, hand stitched and prepared each panel ready for exhibiting; all those that have organised exhibitions and tours; all those that put the exhibitions up; all those that have organised a range of events around the tapestries.
The range of events that can surround these tapestries are from talks about stitching, the history and the designing, to civic receptions and part of festivals. From the very first musical interpretation of the Battle of Prestonpans in Eriskay Community Centre to the many events in Ayr Town Hall when The Great Scottish Tapestry exhibited shows how these community artworks will work in the future. These events are often not just about stitching or the artwork but a range of other artworks like music, dance, storytelling, literature, etc.
As these tapestries progress through tours, talks and events and are making a wider impact. The Peoples' Panel, now housed in The Scottish Parliament had over 10,000 adding a stitch. The Royal Midwives panel was stitched by nearly all the midwives in Scotland. The global tour of The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, the national tour of The Mount Felix Tapestry in New Zealand and the new bespoke building in Galashiels for The Great Tapestry of Scotland opening in 2021. And a developing Tapestry trail around Scotland and beyond.
All tell the story that this is more than one artist or individual, they are not only about creativity and stitching, but are telling many a story or history. A community arts project like is this is an invitation to be creative and tell your story. Not one person owns these tapestries. For me the roots lie in my childhood and The Craigmillar Festival Society, a community arts way of working. Put all these projects together and what do we get? Well that is a big question, but for now the tapestry trail is developing and growing, with no end in sight. As always a pleasure to be part of this and watch it grow. Like the tradition of Community Arts, I hope it is are encouraging the tradition of embroidery and storytelling.
The new national building at Galashiels is a very exciting step forward to give recognition to all those involved in all these tapestries. For me they are all linked. One big project. Although the building will be a home for The Great Tapestry of Scotland it will hopefully support the wider story to be told.