With just over a year to go until the opening of the new Great Tapestry of Scotland’s £6.7m visitor centre in the Borders, locals are being given the chance to contribute to the new attraction.
Borderers are being asked to help stitch the new panel welcome tapestry which will grace the entrance of the building once it opens in Galashiels in April 2021.
Promoters are hitting the road on a Borders and Scotland-wide tour, giving people the chance to stitch themselves into history by helping complete the welcome artwork designed by Andrew Crummy.
Yesterday the first of those to help, including pupils from Hawick High School’s textile school, added their stitches to the panel and names to a contributor book.
And going forward the tour will give people the chance to work with some of the country’s leading textile artists and add a stitch or two to the new welcome panels.
Hawick contributor Suzie Finlayson is helping coordinate the community effort needed to complete the panels.
During the tour’s launch in her home town’s Towermill exhibition space on Thursday, she told us: “I’ve had a little cry today actually. This is only the second time we have seen all five panels for the welcome tapestry laid altogether.
“Andrew has taken elements from all of the designs in the 2018 schools design competitions to create the panels and there’s also 76 little squares to be filled around the outside of the artwork.
“We’re still gathering ideas for those motifs but already the youngsters have come up with great ideas for those, with Doddie Weir and the railway cropping up a lot.
“We are looking forward to seeing the panels go on tour and are always looking for more people to contribute.” The welcome tapestry follows the ethos of the main tapestry, completed in 2013, but rather than focusing on the history and heritage and culture of Scotland, the new panels focus solely on the Borders.
It features a reiver, a shepherd, a monk, a mill worker and a fisher lass and by the time they are complete, it is hoped that over 1,000 different people from across Scotland and beyond will have contributed to them.
Great Tapestry of Scotland Centre director Sandy Maxwell-Forbes, said: “Telling the people’s story of Scotland and making this story accessible to everyone has always been at the heart of the Great Tapestry of Scotland, so we’re incredibly excited to be giving those who live in Scotland, and those visitors who love our country so much, an opportunity to stitch their name in Scotland’s history through our new Welcome Panel Tour.
“In keeping with the Great Tapestry of Scotland’s ethos, it is vital that as many people as possible have an opportunity to contribute to the panels.
“As part of the tour, we’re taking the welcome panels directly to venues, such care homes, to remove some of the barriers that some individuals face to accessing such significant cultural projects. We will add more venues throughout the year.
“We would like to thank all the venues and event organisers throughout Scotland who are making this possible.”
The Great Tapestry of Scotland was the brainchild of Edinburgh writer Alexander McCall Smith, historian Alistair Moffat and artist Andrew Crummy.
The welcome panel tour visits Traquair House, Innerleithen, on April 9 – 10, Kelso’s Floors Castle on May 2 – 3, Abbotsford House near Tweedbank on May 30 and Heriot Watt University’s Galashiels campus from July 20 – 24.
Planned visits to care homes and other Borders venues are still to be confirmed.
For more information on the tour and tapestry visit: https://www.liveborders.org.uk/culture/the-great-tapestry-of-scotland