Since 2009 I have been the designer for many tapestries. There is now a growing Tapestry trail around Scotland and beyond.
Some now have a permanent home which you can visit like The Great Tapestry of Scotland, Declaration of Arbroath, Gordon Highlanders Tapestry in Aberdeen, Allermuir Tapestry in Oxgangs, Peoples Panel in The Scottish Parliament, Kirkcaldy panel, parts of The Prestonpans Tapestry and Scottish Diaspora Tapestry in Prestonpans and parts of The Craigmillar Tapestry. While other tapestries are in temporary exhibitions. While other tapestries are in construction like The Spirit of The Highlands Tapestry, Dundee Tapestry, Cancer tapestry, George Watsons Ladies college, Tapestry for Europe, etc.
What is emerging is a tapestry trail and network of stitchers 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.
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.