New national visitor attraction announces opportunity for people to permanently stitch their name inScotland’s history, heritage and culture
Visitors and residents across Scotland in 2020 are being given a unique opportunity to become part of Scotland’s history, heritage and culture for generations to come through The Great Tapestry of Scotland: Welcome Panel Tour.
The programme of events 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 for the major new national visitor attraction housing the Great Tapestry of Scotland (one of the world’s most significant pieces of modern textile artistry). The tour will take place across Scotland throughout 2020 at a variety of iconic historic properties, leading cultural venues, care homes and other venues that promote social inclusion in Scotland. A range of venues for the tour have already been revealed in Aberdeen, Glasgow and the Scottish Borders (see notes to editors) and more will be confirmed later in the year.
When complete, the new Welcome to Scotland’s Story panels will be permanently displayed at the entrance to the Great Tapestry of Scotland’s £6.7 million purpose built interactive visitor centre, which opens in 2021 in the historic town of Galashiels (in the heart of Scotland’s premier textile region, the Scottish Borders). Those who contribute a stitch will also be given the chance to have their names recorded in history as a contributor to the Tapestry’s visitor centre.
Speaking of the Welcome Panel Tour recently appointed 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. We would like to thank all the venues and event organisers throughout Scotland who are making this this possible.
“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.”
Many of the stories told through the Great Tapestry of Scotland, which was completed in 2013, have strong ties to the history, heritage and culture that can be experienced first hand on a visit to Scotland. Building on this and, continuing the Tapestry’s ethos to tell the people’s story of Scotland, the new Welcome to Scotland’s Story panels will tell some of the true stories linked to the visitor centre’s new home in Scotland’s premier textile region, The Scottish Borders. The panels will feature a reiver, a shepherd, a monk, a mill worker and a fisher lass. 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.
The 21st Lady of Traquair, Catherine Maxwell Stuart, who is hosting the Welcome Panel Tour on 9 and 10 May said: “We are looking forward to the Great Tapestry of Scotland having a permanent home in the Scottish Borders where we hope it will draw visitors from far and wide to appreciate this outstanding cultural achievement”
“Over 900 years Traquair has witnessed extraordinary events in Scotland’s history, so we know only too well how important it is to hear Scotland’s stories as told by Scotland’s people. With our own strong heritage of textile and embroideries it is wonderful to see these unique traditions being carried on to the 21st century. We are delighted to be part of the Welcome Panel tour with this wonderful team of textile artists giving residents and visitors to Scotland in 2020 an opportunity to part of this story.”
Linda Wigley, Operations Director at Floors Castle, which is hosting the tour on 2 and 3 May 2020, said: “We are thrilled to be hosting the Great Tapestry of Scotland’s Welcome Panel tour. It is an incredible opportunity for people visiting Scotland to learn first hand from some of Scotland’s greatest textile artists and to firmly root themselves in Scotland’s history, heritage and culture for generations to come.”
Giles Ingram, Chief Executive of Abbotsford, home of Sir Walter Scott, which will host the panels on Saturday 30 May 2020, said: “We are really looking forward to the opening of the Great Tapestry of Scotland. It’s a wonderful new attraction for the Borders that will engage visitors with its depiction of Scottish people, places and events, many of which were very important to Sir Walter Scott and his stories.
“Abbotsford is delighted to be a part of the tapestry’s story today and to give our visitors an opportunity to make their mark on an important piece of Scottish cultural history.”
Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Business and Economic Development, Councillor Mark Rowley, added: “I’m delighted the Welcome Panel Tour will take in some of the exceptional venues we have in the Scottish Borders, highlighting both the region’s significant textile heritage and the vibrancy of today’s artists, makers and manufacturers.
“Its tour of Scotland is an opportunity to remind people of this great artwork and alert people across the country to the fantastic new home for the Tapestry currently being created in Galashiels.”
For more information or to book tickets for the Great Tapestry of Scotland Welcome Panel Tour visithttps://www.liveborders.org.uk/culture/the-great-tapestry-of-scotland/or follow @GreatTapestrySc on Facebook or Twitter, and @GreatTapestryScotland on Instagram.
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Notes to Editors
The Great Tapestry of Scotland Welcome Panel Tour
Led by culture and leisure charity Live Borders, the Great Tapestry of Scotland Welcome Panel Tour will visit iconic and accessible venues throughout Scotland, including:
- Marchmont House in Berwickshire – on 1 February 2020 – a stunning Palladian mansion built in 1750 by Hugh Hume-Campbell, 3rd Earl of Marchmont. Long thought to have been designed by William Adam, with major changes commissioned at a later date by eminent Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer. Winner of the Historic Houses/Sotheby’s Restoration Award 2018.
- VisitScotland Expo, Aberdeen on 1 and 2 April 2020 – Scotland’s premier business to business travel trade event at P&J Live in Aberdeen on 1 and 2 April 2020.
- Traquair House, Still Room on 9 and 10 May, 11am to 5pm – Scotland’s oldest inhabited house, dating back to 1107 and lived in by the Stuart family since 1491. Originally a royal hunting lodge, Traquair played host to 27 Scottish Kings and Queens, including Mary Queen of Scots, and later as staunch Catholics the family supported the Jacobite cause.
- Floors Castle on 2 and 3 May 2020, 10.30am to 5pm – Scotland’s largest inhabited castle and family home of the Duke of Roxburghe, Floors Castle was designed by leading Edinburgh architect William Adam for the 1st Duke of Roxburghe in 1721. Floors is home to an outstanding collection of art, including the set of Brussels tapestries and the Gobelins tapestries.
- Abbotsford on 30 May 2020, 10am to 5pm – Standing on the banks of the River Tweed near Galashiels, Abbotsford was the creation of the famous 19thcentury Scottish novelist, poet and playwright Sir Walter Scott. It was built almost 200 years ago on the proceeds of his successful literary career. Abbotsford is an enduring monument to the tastes, talents and personal tragedies of its creator.
- Scotland’s Women’s Institute Summer School at the Heriot Watt University Textiles campus in Galashiels from 20 to 24 July 2020 – bringing a broad mix of women together to connect, share, teach and meet.
- The Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) Conference in Glasgow from 12 to 16 October – The Associated Country Women of the World exists to amplify the voices of rural women, so that the problems they face and the solutions they raise are heard and acknowledged by international policy-makers and legislators; and
- A variety venues and events supporting social inclusion in Scotland, including care homes (full details will be confirmed at a later date).
Great Tapestry of Scotland
- The Great Tapestry of Scotland was the brainchild of one of the world’s best-loved writers, Alexander McCall Smith. The 44 Scotland Street author, together with historian Alistair Moffat, and with the artistic talents of Andrew Crummy formed a team set to produce the world’s longest tapestries through one of the biggest community arts projects ever to take place in Scotland.
- It is a unique project to stitch the entire story of Scotland from pre-history to modern times.
- It has been hand stitched by over 1000 people in communities across Scotland and transported by land, sea and air to come together in its final permanent home in Galashiels, the Scottish Borders.
- It took over 65,000 hours of stitching and over 300 miles of wool (enough to lay the entire length of Scotland from the Border with England to the tip of the Shetland Isles in the North Atlantic).
- It features 420 million years of Scottish history from 8500BC to present day.
- Through its wonderful textile artistry and visual storytelling, it makes Scotland’s history, heritage and culture accessible to all.
- The project took over two years to complete and the finished tapestry toured Scotland from September 2013. Galashiels was then selected as the permanent home for the visitor attraction and the new build has been made possible thanks to support from the Scottish Government, the Scottish Borders Council and Live Borders.
- The new Great Tapestry of Scotland building, which is currently being constructed by Scottish contractor Ogilvie Constriction, has been designed by one of Scotland’s leading architectural practices, Page\Park. The contractors will also repurpose the adjacent former Post Office, a B-listed building with exterior carvings by the once world-renowned 19th century sculptor George Paterson Sutherland, who hailed from the town and later emigrated to Toronto. There will also be retail, café, educational and touring exhibition space, as well as an ongoing events and exhibitions programme.
- Experts predict that the centre – a short train ride from Edinburgh on the Borders Railway – will attract over 50,000 visitors to Galashiels each year once opened. Almost £900,000 of extra spending per year is predicted for the local economy, providing 12,000 extra visits to complementary attractions.
- The Great Tapestry of Scotland helped secure a £1.18m Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund for Galashiels, which is supporting a number of regeneration projects in the town, such as the new town trail includes a sculpture dedicated to Galashiels sweet seller Robert Coltart who wrote the world famous children’s lullaby Coulter’s Candy (Ali Bali Bee).
- The regeneration of Galashiels has the support of the Scottish Government through the Borders Railway Blueprint programme, as well as community groups such as Energise Galashiels Trust.
- Jura Consultants, who have over 20 years of experience in forecasting visitor numbers for new and existing visitor attractions, predict the centre will attract over 50,000 visitors to Galashiels each year once opened, as well as create 16 FTE posts at the facility.
- The new attraction will be managed by Live Borders, a charity employing over 250+ people across the cultural, sports and leisure sectors, and welcoming well over a million people to its sites per year. They operate many of the cultural and heritage highlights in the Scottish Borders, such as Jim Clark Motorsport Museum, Heart of Hawick, Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre, Mary Queen of Scots Visitor Centre and Jedburgh Castle and Jail.
About Sandy Maxwell-Forbes, Centre Director for the Great Tapestry of Scotland
Sandy has a successful background in global technology, oil and gas, business tourism and SME organisations. She has managed diverse teams, has experience in developing and maintaining trusted relationships with shareholders, business partners and internal and external stakeholders, as well as delivering challenging financial and commercial targets.
After a highly successful career in global corporations, Sandy returned to Scotland in 2004 and worked at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on delivering the £85million expansion project.