03 September 2015

The Great Tapestry of Scotland

What I'd planned to be a quick 5 minutes in Kirkcaldy Galleries before my train turned out to be a bit longer! I stayed for at least 45 minutes, and will have to go back again to really do this exhibition justice!
The Great Tapestry of Scotland has been stitched by groups and individuals all around the country. It's thought to be the longest tapestry in the world at 143 metres, and over 100 stitchers took about a year and a half to complete it. It's spread over 4 rooms in the galleries. There are 160 panels, and they show all aspects of Scotland's history: political, religious, geological, scientific, social, artistic, and much more.
I went to see the tapestry because of the craftsmanship involved, which turned out to be even more skilled and varied than I'd expected. It's amazing the different textures that can be achieved just by stitching, for example showing the difference between the front and back of a piece of Fair Isle knitting. And I loved seeing the creative ways the groups personalised the small square at the corner where they could sign their names. But there's so much more to it than just the sewing. The panels form a cohesive artistic whole, and there's bound to be at least one panel that's on a topic to interest you!
It's so difficult to pick out which were my favourite panels in the tapestry. They were all so amazingly stylish in their design, and the stitching so beautiful. I loved those on scientific topics and those about textiles. But the Glenrothes panel was, of course, a favourite for me, featuring as it did the concrete hippos that I sat on as a child, and the Henge, a piece of town art that was at the end of the street where I lived when I was very young. I also loved the Charles Rennie Mackintosh panel.

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