Some details of ecclesiastical panels from The Great Tapestry of Scotland, including - second from the bottom - The Apprentice Pillar at Rosslyn Chapel (see posts here and here), and below it, one of the Chapel's many Green Men.
I've been to see The Great Tapestry of Scotland again as it's on display at Cockenzie House and open for viewing until the 8th. of December. My pictures this time are mostly of details from the panels* rather than the broader subjects themselves, and I plan to post them in three or four batches so that there is not too much to take in all at once. I hope they will show something of the range of stitches used in the piece and the very creative ways in which the designer Andrew Crummy and the many embroiderers who worked on the panels have interpreted Scotland's history from its landscape and buildings to its people, ideas and institutions. You'll find some pictures with a literary theme on Cornflower Books, and there will be more to look at here very soon.
If like me you are fascinated by the creative process in almost any medium, then here's a book which sounds delightful and full of interest.
Two Turtle Doves: A Memoir of Making Thingsby Alex Monroe "... reveals how a small
curious boy in the wilds of Suffolk became an internationally famous
jewellery designer. Growing up in the 1970s in a crumbling giant of a
house - four staircases, sagging greenhouses, and goose-pens on its
cracking tennis courts - Alex Monroe was left to wreak havoc by
invention. Without visible parental influence, but with sisters to love
him and brothers to fight for him, he made nature into his world.
Creation became a compulsion.
This book traces the intimate journey of an idea as it is
transformed from a fleeting thought to an exquisite piece of jewellery,
from the flight of an arrow through an English landscape to the buzz of a
Paris fashion show. It explores inspiration, construction and the
afterlife of objects. A bride in Sapporo picks out a necklace she will
treasure forever. A celebrity gazes from a Vogue cover. Like Alex's
jewellery, his story makes unforgettable connections between sensation,
memory and the translation of emotion."
If you didn't see it last night, do try to watch the latest in the Fabric of Britain series, The Wonder of Embroidery. It looks at the skill of medieval embroiderers and the staggering work they produced, known simply as Opus Anglicanum.
For anyone who is curious about the materials used in the tapestry, the linen (in fact a cotton/linen mixture selected for reasons of practicality) comes from the Kirkcaldy linen mill Peter Greig & Co., established in 1825, while the crewel wool is from Appletons; wool spun in Scotland by small producers was considered, but given the quantities involved and the need for a constant supply of consistent colours, a large yarn producer was chosen.
Yesterday I was at the Scottish Parliament to attend the stitchers' preview of The Great Tapestry of Scotland. As you may know if you've followed fairly recent posts here, I am a member of the group which stitched the 1914-1918 War panel, and while we've spent many months working on our piece, and have seen a few other panels in various stages of completion at preview events, yesterday was the first opportunity we've had to see the Tapestry in its entirety.
It is a stunning thing: 143m long (so 70m longer than the Bayeux Tapestry), the work of 1,000 stitchers from across Scotland, the product of countless hours of painstaking embroidery, and a representation of 12,000 years of a country's history (read the news story here). Yesterday we all stood and looked in awe and admiration at the concept and its execution in finished form, from its striking design by artist Andrew Crummy to interpretative needlework of the highest standard.
There was so much to take in on a comparatively brief viewing, and my pictures were hastily taken and are not in order, but I've put most of them* in an album which you can access by clicking here or on the image over there in the righthand sidebar (and once in you can click on each picture to enlarge it), so that should give an idea of the piece. Of course, it's still effectively a work-in-progress as panels can be added as events in Scotland's present and future dictate. Andy Murray's Wimbledon win was stitched in at the last minute (we were watching him take the title as we completed our panel), and doubtless next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will feature in a dedicated panel in due course.
As to the Tapestry itself, it will go on tour in Scotland and the rest of the UK, then to America and Canada, and then - it is hoped - it will find a permanent home, so do see it if you can; as someone who played a small part in its making, I'd like to say that it was a privilege and a pleasure to be involved.
*Dark Puss, you suggested James Clerk Maxwell be included, and he has been.
One to look out for if, as I do, you like that sort of thing: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Scotland: A History by Annette Carruthers. It's not out until the end of October, and it may be one to borrow rather then buy as it's not cheap, but it is billed as:
"the most detailed account to date of the Arts and Crafts movement in
Scotland. Arts and Crafts ideas appeared there from the 1860s, but not
until after 1890 did they emerge from artistic circles and rise to
popularity among the wider public. The heyday of the movement occurred
between 1890 and 1914, a time when Scotland's art schools energetically
promoted new design and the Scottish Home Industries Association
campaigned to revive rural crafts. Across the country the movement
influenced the look of domestic and church buildings, as well as the
stained glass, metalwork, textiles and other furnishings that adorned
them. Art schools, workshops and associations helped shape the Arts and
Crafts style, as did individuals such as Ann Macbeth, W. R. Lethaby,
Robert Lorimer, M. H. Baillie Scott, Douglas Strachan, Phoebe Traquair
and James Cromar Watt, among other well-known and previously overlooked
figures. Together, these architects, artists and designers contributed
to the expansion and evolution of the movement both within and beyond
All the patches were made by members of the public who chose a favourite plant or perhaps one with which they had an association and interpreted it by way of a fabric-based technique such as embroidery, lace-making, felting, etc.; click here to see more of them.
It's not obvious from the pictures, but each of these hexagons comprises two pieces of fabric stitched together and filled with dried lavender. The kilo hasn't gone down by much yet, but partly because of the scent from the open bag, making them (they are handsewn) is a most relaxing pastime.
Our panel of The Great Tapestry of Scotland has just come back to me so that I can complete Flora's sleeve over the next couple of days. Since I last saw the panel my fellow group members have done some marvellous work on it, as these details show:
The badge of Our Dumb Friends League (later The Blue Cross), and Flora's handkerchief.
Flora's hair - complete with net.
The Women's Land Army badge (and here's a clip of the ladies marching).