Regular readers will know already that considerable progress has been made on our Swedish panels, which can all be seen here. We’re delighted to see that the hard work of the stitching team in Gothenburg has not gone unnoticed by their local press, who had this to say:
They are sewing history together!
They are sewing history together!
From Utby to New York
A journey made possible by the Scots
Gothenburg owes a lot to the Scots as Lisbeth Cajstam, Eva Havasson and Viola Johansson all know. At Lisbeth’s home in Utby since April they have been stitching the history of the Scots in Gothenburg.
Let’s take it from the beginning though. It started with Baron Gordon Prestoungrange of Prestonpans, a small town outside Edinburgh. The Baron got in touch by email with Lisbeth Cajstam’s partner [sarbo] because he was serious about Scottish contributions in Gothenburg and particularly wanted to find out about the background of Gothenburg pubs in Scotland.
After contacts over several years, Lisbeth travelled to visit Prestonopans with friends in 2011. “Here we saw a tapestry [a handmade tapestry] about the Battle of Prestonpans, 104 metres long and it filled a couple of rooms”, Lisbeth recalls.
“Inspired by that a new project had been started to create a new tapestry. The project was about ‘Scotland’s World – Our Diaspora’. It’s about Scots who emigrated and their new and successful lives in other places across the globe. And it is indeed a big project. We have been stitching here in Gothenburg, but people are working in 25 countries, in Italy, New York, Poland, India and many others. I don’t know all of them!”
It wasn’t all plain sailing to agree to join the project”, because Lisbeth wasn’t sure that she would be able to recruit enough people to take part in this very time consuming work. “First I’d made one panel myself and it took 123 hours to finish. 123 hours and there were still six more panels to stitch!” But Lisbeth succeeded in gathering together a group of eight volunteers who have now made it already.
The designs of the seven panels, stitched in Gotheburg, are created and painted by Scottish artist Andrew Crummy. He was in Gothenburg last summer and travelled around with my partner [Sarbo] and others. They looked at buildings and other points of interest.
“Each panel is 500mm x 500mm” says Lisbeth, “and they show amongst other things Bachelors’ Club, Jonsered, the first City Council and football. These are some of the things we have to thank the Scots for. We have Dickson’s, Chalmers, SKF, the shipyards, Carnegie Brewery … a lot of these have their origins from the Scots. And not least football, golf and curling.”
When it was time to start the stitching. Lisbeth and her friends got the pictures from the artist and a bag with the linen panels and yarns. They had no specific instructions but had to find out how to do it themselves. And it’s not always been easy.
“The yarns have sometimes made a fuss and been broken. We’ve had our problems but we have really enjoyed the work” says Lisbeth; and Eva Hansson adds: “It was really a big challenge”.
But when they had their most troublesome moments they thought about New York. Why? Because in 2015 there will be a Scottish Week there and it’s planned to include an exhibition of the new tapestry. And the ‘Stitchers Gang’ have certainly got it in mind to be there. “We’ve talked so much about New York so it must be a journey we make” says Eva Hansson.
In spite of all the hard work, troubles with yarns and numerous Sundays at Lisbeth’s home, they all unanimously acknowledge that it has been very enjoyable and pleasant, especially the fellowship of the group.
“It has been a meeting point, and the fun is that those who today have ‘sewing-meetings’ almost never do any sewing even if they call the occasions ‘sewing-meetings’! But we have a meeting where we really do sew!” says Viola Johansson.
Text & Photography: Johanna Josephsson : translation Jorgen Linder.