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Prestonpans 'Scottish Diaspora Tapestry' now Publicly Launched: June 28th

Open Secret Publicly Shared - at last!

The success of the Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry since July 2010 was always expected to trigger all manner of tapestry initiatives nationwide. And it's not disappointed!

First, as a browser at Edinburgh's Dovecote when it was exhibited there in December 2010, writer Sandy MacCall-Smith was so fascinated and convinced by what he saw that he commissioned the Great History of Scotland. That exciting project will be completed in 2013. Dorie Wilkie, who was Senior Stitcher for the original Prestonpans artwork, is leading the embroiderers.

But second, the 'open secret' for more than a year now, is the creation of the Global Tapestry of the Scottish Diaspora., This is the magificent, daunting but inspiring project that Prestoungrange Arts Festival has set its hand to. Once again it's a community arts project from the Pans and involves working with Panners and communities across Scotland as they relate to no fewer than 25 countries across the world. They are key countries to which Scots have emigrated across the centuries and stayed there to build new lives.

The Logo for the Diaspora Tapestry has been stitched by Gillian Hart and Yvonne Murphy to the design by Andrew Crummy, shown below:

In each one of those countries their stories are being gathered together and local stitchers are volunteering to embroider them on 500mm x 500mm panels. Andrew Crummy is once again the designer and Yvonne Murphy and Gillian Hart are co-ordinating the historical research and the hundreds of stitchers. Arran Johnston and Gordon Prestoungrange have already created the website LINKED DIRECTLY HERE and are responsible for it throughout the design and display process. Kris Cunningham, who has so successfuly managed the media for the Arts Festival for a decade now, will manage the media for this new artwork too and lead the planning of nationwide events in 2014.

Public Launch at National Story Telling Centre

The Arts Festival has worked since its inception with the National Story Telling Centre in Edinburgh. After all, that's what the Arts Festival has been doing since 1997 - telling stories in murals, books, totem poles, music, theatre and more. As such there were few better locations to stand when making the 'public' launch on June 28th. We were especially delighted that amongst the guests [all pictured below] was Billy Kay, author of The Scottish World that did so much to inspire the project by bringing alive the peoples of the Scottish Diaspora.

Also there was Dr Duncan Simm who has particularly researched the diaspora peoples of North America and England from the University of West of Scotland, and Dr Petra Wend, Principal & Vice Chancellor of Queen Margaret Univeristy - an artist herself - who has already helped encourage the earliest pilot panels as they emerged in Barga, Tuscany.

Now the project team has eighteen months until December 31st 2013 to get the 25 countries with 6/ 10 panels each, stitched up and ready to exhibit. Each country's artwork in turn will have its 'official' welcome in Prestonpans and a Grand Celebration of the entire collection at 3Harbours time in June 2014. But the whole project is considerably more ambitious still....

Event Scotland & The Homecoming 2014 are supporting the project ... as are Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government and our own Barons Courts Charity

Scotland's Diaspora is spread across the globe from Norway and Sweden to Australia and New Zealand, from South to North America, from Corby and Liverpool in England to Malawi and South Africa, from Poland to China ... that sounds like a lot of travelling to meet and share and guide as the 200+ panel artwork is created. And that will carry major expense. The significant news is that although the Barons Courts Charity has indeed funded the pilot and some continuing work, the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland have offered additional grants - some 140,000 in total. It's the biggest focussed funding ever received by the Arts Festival since its foundation in 1997.

Quick Response (QR) tags will also be used for each cohort of panels

There are so many new technologies emergent these days, but one is making a huge difference this time around for the Diaspora Tapestry. The panels will be linked to an array of sounds and scenes and information via Smartphone technology. The data streams that can be accessed in this way will be captured on the website as the project rolls forward.

Arts Volunteers are needed here in The Pans

Whilst a great deal of the stitching will be done across the globe, in the communities where Scots have stayed, here in The Pans all other aspects of the project require volunteers. The panels require tidying and blocking and stitching together into cohorts then photographing. The Homeland Communities from which the migrant Scots first departed need involving in the project. The 'Reverse Diaspora' e.g. those from India [see turbaned Baron Sirdar Iqbal Singh pictured above with Billy Kay], Italy [also represented by the Indian Institute], China, France, Australia, Pakistan, Canada .... and all the rest who are living in Scotland today [or previously - perhaps as university students] need to be involved, to be part of the whole project. Music and dancing, Burns poetry, pipes and drums and song associated with our diaspora require collection and interpretation. And much more besides ...

If you'd like to be involved get in touch with Yvonne Murphy or Gillian Hart - their emails are linked to their names just back here.

For the moment, LET IT BE KNOWN, Prestonpans Tapestry # 2 is up and running, well funded and due for completion by end 2013 and display from 2014

In the coming months there will a lot more news here, there and everywhere, across the globe!

And you wont be surprised, given they are two of The Pans strongest diaspora connections, that Barga in Tuscany and Gothenburg in Sweden are already on stream and will be first to surface as completed works, with much celebration to be sure.

Published Date: June 30th 2012

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