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Legacy Already Blooming ... a second major embroidered artwork is planned

Seeing Was Believing for Alexander MacCall Smith ...

When we began celebrating and touring the Prestonpans Tapestry in July 2010 one of the six* legacies we hoped might occur was a renaissance of interest in embroidered tapestries - not just for the embroiderers themslves but also for those who saw and learnt from them. And as The Scotsman reported, less than a year later 'Sandy' MacCall-Smith, who saw the Prestonpans Tapestry at the Dovecot in Edinburgh only four months ago, has thrown his weight and his patronage behind a 'second' major embroidered artwork - already dubbed The Great Tapestry of Scotland.

Andrew Crummy, who created the Prestonpans Tapestry to great critical acclaim, is once again artistic designer and Dorie Wilkie who co-ordinated the embroiderers' team has accepted a similar role too.

Ambitious? Of course .... but these initiatives are inspired from Prestonpans, home of another magnificent, dynamic community arts initiative - The 3Harbours Festival - having its 6th Celebration from May 28th/ June 5th [GO 3Harbours Programme HERE - and be delighted and amazed in equal measure.]

P.S. ... and talking of legacies, it's an absolute delight to see the beautiful mosaic lately created at The Pennypit Centre - and reported below. Another artwork to add to the evergrowing arts trail hereabouts!

click to enlarge the press cutting from the East Lothian Courier

The Scotsman's report from David Robinson reads:

'Andrew Crummy, creator of the Prestonpans tapestry, will be point man on Alexander McCall Smith's project.

'An enormous tapestry telling the story of Scotland from prehistory up to the near-present has been commissioned by novelist Alexander McCall Smith for public display.

'The Great Tapestry of Scotland - which is expected to be one of the biggest of its kind in the world - will be formally launched by McCall Smith at the Borders' Book Festival on 18 June.

'He conceived of the idea after seeing the the Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry at the Dovecot Gallery in Edinburgh in December last year.

"I was looking at the reaction of people when they viewed it and they were just blown away by it," he said.

"This is a remarkably accessible portrayal of a bit of Scottish history and to see it brings it right back to life. It is an example of what people can do when they sit down to create anything."

'The next day, McCall Smith phoned historian, author and Borders' Book Festival director Alistair Moffat to outline his plan for the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

"Sandy is a devoted son of Scotland and he is determined to do something vivid, enduring and quintessentially Scottish to celebrate the country's history," Moffat said last night. "This is a fabulous, colourful and sparkling way of saying Scotland is great."

'Like the Prestonpans Tapestry, the Great Tapestry of Scotland will be designed by Cockenzie-based artist Andrew Crummy.

'It is expected to have 100 panels, each showing key turning points in Scottish history, from the retreat of the Ice Age glaciers to the present day.

'The project is still in its infancy, and it has still not been decided where the tapestry will hang, nor which scenes best illuminate the nation's history.

"We know already that it will look stunning," said Moffat. "Even though we haven't seen anything yet in colour, Andrew Crummy has already come up with some sketches. He is an absolute genius at conceptualising an amazing story in a single panel".

'The project aims to involve every part of the country, from Shetland to Galloway, in the stitching of the tapestry. The Prestonpans Tapestry, telling the story of the victory of Bonnie Prince Charlie's army over government forces led by General Sir John Cope, consists of 104 metre-wide linen panels. Each one took about 250 hours to complete.

'The Great Tapestry of Scotland is conceived on a similar scale - bigger than the Bayeux Tapestry - but may be rolled up and transported around the nation whose history it will tell.'

* Legacies from the Legacy [p.255, Crummy, A., et al., The Prestonpans Tapestry, 2010, Burkes Peerage & Gentry with Prestoungrange University Press]

At the Battle Trust we anticipate six major outcomes, legacies of our legacy from the Prince. First and foremost we expect to heighten national awareness of, and thereby advance, our campaign to create a vibrant Living History Centre in Prestonpans with the Tapestry as a prime exhibit.

Secondly, we expect to see a surge of interest in and involvement with sewing/ stitching/ embroidery. Seeing what has been achieved will certainly trigger ideas and aspirations amongst others to create a similarly beautiful artwork.

Thirdly we expect to see the Tapestry visited by a host of young students as they study the Scottish History curriculum with it becoming a powerful new medium that supplements the Trust’s existing programme of re-enactments and BattleGaming.

Fourthly, we expect debate and disagreement and learning all around from the details we have placed in the Tapestry’s panels and our history notes – the story of the ’45 is so replete with romanticised myth that we have no illusions we have it all right – only Allah is Perfect!

Fifthly, we shall trumpet the triumph of ‘voluntarism’. It can move mountains – of linen and wool – and it can move hearts and minds.

And sixthly, we expect to see a greater surge in the continuing re-assertion of our community self-esteem in Prestonpans and our neighbours in Port Seton and Cockenzie, through the arts, as we all make our way in the 21st century. There is every right to be immensely proud of the sense of place our heritage has afforded our community - not only arising from this iconic battle in 1745 but from The Pans’ industrial contribution to the Scottish nation across a thousand years.

P.S. Pace Bayeux. There are several recent illustrious predecessors to The Prestonpans Tapestry, not least The Last Invasion at Fishguard, The Quaker Tapestry at Kendal and The Tregellas Tapestry in Cornwall. And there's a spectacular Thames Tapestry currently being created in time for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad downstream ... [Ed.]

Published Date: April 7th 2011

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