Culture Secretary visits the studio
The Tapestry team welcomes Fiona Hyslop, MSP, to review the project's progress as 2013 draws to a close...
It was our great pleasure to invite the Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs to celebrate with us the close of a very busy year. Fiona Hyslop visited Andrew Crummy's studio in Cockenzie, East Lothian, where she was shown a selection of the panels which already have been returned to us. There was a fine spread, with completed panels on display from Corby (England), Gothenburg (Sweden), Florida (USA), Picton (Canada) and Veere (Holland). Completed designs were also on display, offering a glimpse of what is to come in 2014!
Of course, the Cabinet Secretary is already familiar with the project having been with us when the first completed Italian and Swedish panels returned to Scotland earlier this year. She was therefore extremely interested to see how far the tapestry has come along since her last visit, and enquired keenly as to the nature and diversity of the diaspora stories arrayed before her.
We also took this opportunity to invite Fiona Hyslop to present one of our stitchers, Alina Mirza, with her panel detailing the reverse diaspora story of doctors from India and Pakistan who came to Scotland in the 1950s and '60s to work in the NHS (above). The famous Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry formed the backdrop to the presentation!
Also present at the event was Professor Geoff Palmer, Scotland's first black professor, who himself features in one of the Jamaican panels. His daughter will be doing the stitching, but Professor Palmer promised to add a few himself! He brilliantly entertained our volunteers with stories of the Scottish influence in Jamaica, and the news cameras enjoyed speaking with him too (below)!
And amidst the media excitement and the interest of the ministerial visit, the serious work of stitching continued! Amongst the guests were many of the local embroiderers who are helping the team at our stitching studio, blocking and preparing the returned panels ready for exhibition next year. Some were also showing off progress on their own Homeland panels, swapping tips and sharing techniques and adding the buzz of excitement. To these volunteers, and of course to all our stitchers around the world, we owe enormous gratitude. That's why we're so looking forward to meeting as many as can possibly make it across to Scotland during the Year of Homecoming 2014. Here's where to find us:
31st May - 8th June 2014
PRESTONPANS - Three Harbours Arts Festival
Prestonpans Community Centre
23rd June - 23rd July 2014
STIRLING - MacRobert Centre, Stirling University
(click here for directions)
6th August - 31st August 2014
EDINBURGH - St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral
6th September - 22nd September 2014
PAISLEY - Anchor Mill
27th September - 25th October 2014
INVERNESS - Museum & Art Gallery & WICK - St Fergus Gallery
The visit was attended by both the BBC and STV, along with the Scotsman and local newspapers, so we look forward to seeing their take on our progress shortly!