Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Great Tapestry of Scotland is now on display!

I am so delighted to write this post and share these photos with you.
In posts on my blog you have all followed the progress of our Great Tapestry of Scotland panel since our group was formed and we began working on it just over a year ago.
Well now all the panels are finished and have been hung together in the Scottish Parliament.

All the stitcher's involved (over 1000!) were invited to the opening on Monday (in staged groups!). I took this photo above when we came back from tea and the exhibition was still deserted. This is just a small part of the 160 panels. The whole thing was really overwhelming and quite moving and I am so proud to have been a part of it.

I have taken a lot of photos here, but this is still just scratching the surface. This is the first panel a sort of 'title page'.

And straight away we are at my group's panel, number 5. You can read more about the evolution of this panel here and here and here.
It was wonderful to see it hanging beside the others with people viewing and admiring it.

One of the best things about the opening on Monday was meeting some of the other stitchers and finding out which panel they had worked on and hearing their stories. I now have so much more background information on the other panels then I did before.

I'm now going to start honing in on some particular highlights, though I am sure when I go back again I will find even more that I like just as much.

The shell in the corner and those incredible 3D warriors really stood out for me on this Macbeth panel.

One of the few panels that had been stitched by a man (in partnership with a woman) this was just so beautiful worked, especially the horse.

I loved the way the chainmail had been stitched on the Bannockburn panel, and was lucky enough to meet the lady who stitched it, Caroline, at the reception.

I met a group of lovely ladies who had stitched the panel for the battle of Philiphaugh. I used to live at Philiphaugh (which is just outside Selkirk) very close to the site of the battle and the Covenanter's Monument which is in the top right hand corner. Another lovely thing about these panels is finding bits of them that have personal relevance to your life.

I just couldn't get over the woven stitching in this panel below, it is incredible! I really don't know how the stitcher managed this, it is so perfectly done.

We had only been able to use very natural, earthy tones for our 8500BC panel so it was wonderful to see all the rich colours in the others.

And it is not just the stitching that makes these panels such works of art but the wonderful, creative design by Andrew Crummy. Look how he has tackled this 'chaotic' battle scene! The design style is so beautiful and distinctive and helps the story flow through the different panels.

You had to keep your eyes open for all the stunning little details, like this wine glass - look at that highlight!

More examples of Andrew's fantastic design coupled with the stitchers' incredible talent (I am running out of superlatives here!).

I started this post with a close-up of this as it is one of many highlights.

Another panel which has personal relevance as I can see the Forth Bridge from the top of our field. Again Andrew's design is so imaginative.

Some of the panels were very moving...

Another little gem, just a tiny part of this panel, which really appealed to me.

The peacock one below is probably going to be lot of people's favourite, just stunning.

As is this Paisley one, which I think of as it's sister piece. It was the first panel that Andrew designed.

There's still more to come - are you still with me?!

Glasgow School of Art

Eric Liddle

Fair Isle Knitting - this is so amazing and one that really needs to be viewed up close to appreciate the detail.

I've exhausted myself exclaiming over all this awesomeness, so let's just look at a few panels in silence...

This next one was completely stitched by 2 men. Only 6 men in total took part so this is a very special panel. I spoke to one of the men who told me he had taken the panel all over Europe on business trips to work on it! It is as exquistely stitched as any of the women's efforts so there is really no reason men shouldn't be doing this too!

Another particular favourite of mine, the stitching on this actually has me lost for words, and again, must be seen up close to really be appreciated.

Each stitcher or group of stitchers had the 2 bottom corners of the panel left empty for them to stitch their own personal 'tag'. These 2 ladies, who I think must have been sisters, used a photo of themselves as little girls - just so lovely!

We are becoming more up to date here. I wasn't sure how these modern panels would work but they are all incredible and I actually love this last bit the best!

Another favourite, this Dolly the sheep panel is so amazing, the stitching on the sheep is so uniform! Again words fail me...

A totally beautiful panel about the Scottish Parliament reconvening worked by head stitcher Dorie Wilkie as a sampler of all (or most of) the stitches used in the whole tapestry.

Well I don't know about you but I am worn out now after seeing all that beauty, and that was just the photos, the real thing is 100 times better.  So go see the exhibiton! It's on display at the Scottish Parliament till 21st September and it's FREE!

The BBC has a wonderful video on their website all about the tapestry - well worth a look.

One last photo of our group of talented stitchers (minus Eliz who couldn't make it) in front of our panel.


  1. What an interesting post and so lovely to be able to get a flavour of the exhibition if we can't get to see it in person. It was a very cleverly put together design to really show case Scottish history. It must be amazing to have played a part in this bit of history.

  2. This is absolutely fabulous - I saw it was complete on the bbc at lunchtime, but their story is nothing next to yours - I hope to catch it some time and examine it in more details!

  3. Oh I could have read on and on if you'd had time to take more pics, Jo. Thank you ever so much for taking time to share this with those of us who can't see it. It is truly amazing and such a fabulous project to have been part of.

  4. I have also seen it on the TV but the pictures didnt do it justice. Your photos are stunning. I.m looking forward to the "World Tour" and hope to see it when it comes south of the border.

  5. Saw this last night on the BBC news, you are very honoured to have been able to take part, and Scotland are very honoured to have all of you wonderful 'stitchers' making this possible.

  6. WONDERFUL!! I can't wait to see it in real life. Thank you so much for all those photos!

  7. Thank you so much for the stunning photos Jo. I was reading about the unveiling of the tapestry in the newspaper and was wishing to see more, and thinking of you the whole time I read the article.

  8. Amazing, stunning, gorgeous, and that's just the first panel! It is incredible what beauty can be created in this world by talented men and women with a shared mission. Thank you so much for sharing the journey with us.

  9. Absolutely amazing! I won't get to see it in person (other than the fear of running into the repulsive Mr S, I have the pesky day job ;o) )

  10. Oh. My. Gosh! That's stunning!, where will it go after September?

  11. How amazing! I have only had time to have a very quick look down your pics but will go back and study later in the day, I intend to watch the BBC video. As a Lancashire lass with ?Scsottish ancestry this is extremely interesting.

  12. I can't remember where it's going after September, either. It was so lovely to see all these panels, thanks so much for sharing, Jo!

  13. I must be verging on the emotionally unstable when it comes to stitchery, because I feel slightly emotionally overwhelmed looking at all this beautiful work, making up such exquisite art - art depicting real history! You are so lucky (and skilled!) to have been a part of this, it's history in the making. Absolutely love the "East India" panel and the Peacock (predictably apparently!!). I am definitely going to go see this. Great pictures, you can see every stitch. Thank you for sharing it - and the journey x

  14. Thanks for this Jo...and congrats to you and your gang of stitchers! I really think they need to make a book about this with each panel a full page spread and the other page a full explanation!!!

  15. Wow! What an undertaking, and it showcases so much talent!

  16. Oh my, that is just stunning, really beyond words. I would love to see it one day, what happens after the end of September, will it be displayed elsewhere? I am going read more about it. Thank you so much for sharing so many pictures and also all the details.

  17. Oh, no! I thought this was to be a permanent part of the Parliament building! What is going to happen to all that beautiful work. Where will it be in 2017 when I'm on your side of the world to visit it?

    Thanks so much for sharing all those photos, it will take time just to absorb those so I can imagine how stunning the real thing must be!

  18. Thank you so much for sharing this. I've been following your posts and following the tapestry on facebook and the work is just amazing. It is wonderfult to see the work of so very many exceptionally talented stitchers joined together in such a project. I cannot even beging to imagine how magnificent it must look up close. I will be doing my best to ensure that I get to see it at some stage when it tours or when it eventually is housed somewhere permanently.

  19. Been following the 'journey of this work with interest and now its complete it's stunningly mind-blowing just as I imagined, only BETTER!! Hope to see it when it comes south of the border till then - thank you for your lovely pictures and for sharing this with us all.

  20. Thank you for all those beautiful photos Jo! Breathtaking even from the screen, it must have been totally overwhelming seeing it for real! What a work and what a dedication in every single stitch (like I know from your blog posts about it). Well done to you, your group and the rest of the 1000 stitchers!

  21. Oh I wish I could get to see it. What a fantastic work of art. Congratulations to everyone who took part. Maybe one day I will be able to see it

  22. What a lovely post with some great photos. I am one of the (all too few) male switchers involved in the project. I was part of the team which stitched the Juteopolis panel. Alas I am currently in Switzerland and missed the preview and will not get to the Parliament till the end of the exhibition. So it was great to get this wonderful glimpse of the whole project. Well done.

  23. Speechless! It is an amazing work of art - incredible!
    Where does it go at the end of September?

  24. Absolutely amazing. I first shaw this post and had to come back to read and see the photos all over again. I've been on the Tapestry website to find out more about it. Thank you for sharing this

  25. Totally agree with all your superlatives Jo, what a beautiful piece of work. I have to go back as could not take it all in on first visit, only got half way round! Well done, panel five definitely one of my favourites.

  26. This is spectacular. So great you could participate in such a project. Thanks for sharing all the photos. I wish I could see it in person, too.

  27. We went to see it this weekend - without being a suck-up I can honestly say your panel was our favourite :-) One of your group was there and was lovely in encouraging the kids to do more embroidery. It's such a fantastic achievement - you should all be very proud!

  28. All I can say is wow! Wow! Wow! What an amazing, beautiful group accomplishment.

  29. I've just been to see the tapestry in Paisley. It's fantastic! I've linked to your blog, hope you don't mind. Beautiful work, such a fabulous achievement by all. Well done!