The new purpose-built Great Tapestry of Scotland gallery, visitor centre, cafe and workshop space has been revealed in its permanent home in Galashiels, the heartland of the Scottish Borders. The latest addition to Scotland’s national cultural scene was unveiled as world-renowned author Alexander McCall Smith, whose vision it was to create a tapestry telling the history of Scotland, carefully positioned the 160th and final tapestry panel in place with chief stitcher Dorie Wilkie. The Great Tapestry of Scotland is located in the centre of Galashiels, less than an hour by train from Edinburgh on the Borders Railway, and close to Galashiels Transport Interchange.
The brainchild of Alexander McCall Smith and designed by artist Andrew Crummy, the Great Tapestry of Scotland is one of the world’s largest community arts projects. Hand-stitched by a team of 1,000 stitchers from across Scotland led by Dorie Wilkie, over 300 miles of wool was used in creating the 160 linen panels (enough to lay the entire length of Scotland from the border with England to the tip of Shetland). The design of the panels is based on a narrative written by Scottish Borders-based award-winning writer and historian Alistair Moffat.
Speaking on the news of the centre’s opening, Alexander McCall Smith said: “The opening of this wonderful gallery marks the end of a long period of hard work by all of those who have created this astonishing tapestry and its permanent home. But it also marks the beginning of the public life of one of the great artistic creations of our time.”
An artwork truly born from the love of the places, people
Councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Economic Regeneration and Finance, said: “The Great Tapestry of Scotland truly is a national asset, and we are exceptionally proud to be able to open this phenomenal gallery to house it in the Scottish Borders. I have absolutely no doubt that this will draw in visitors from far and wide and will be an incredibly important development for this region. The addition of new world class museums and galleries like The Great Tapestry of Scotland, the Trimontium museum and the Jim Clark Motorsport Museum add to our impressive array of visitor attractions across the beautiful Scottish Borders. Alongside Scotland’s Year of Stories in 2022 and the Scott 250 celebrations to mark the anniversary of Sir Walter Scott, our region’s incredible visitor assets, including our landscape, will provide a springboard for economic recovery post Covid-19. Having exhibitions and events of such national historical and cultural significance based in the south of Scotland is an extremely positive development and will deliver wider benefits to the local economy and place the area firmly on the map.”
As well as permanently displaying the Great Tapestry of Scotland itself, the new visitor attraction will be home to a workshop space – where visitors can meet the makers, a café showcasing Scotland’s larder, a shop and Gallery 1420, which will host a series of visiting exhibitions. Housed in the new visitor centre’s Gallery 1420, the Iconic Scotland exhibit also displays some artefacts relating to some of the individuals appearing in the exhibit including Drew McIntyre’s WWE Championship belt, items donated by Outlander star Sam Heughan, an eighteenth century purse embroidered by one of the daughters of the 4th Earl of Traquair, a salwar kameez worn by pioneering human rights activist Saroj Lal and a Great Tapestry of Scotland kilt created by leading kilt designer Howie Nicholsby at 21st Century Kilts, in an exclusive fabric designed by Lochcarron of Scotland.
Revealing the new exhibit, Great Tapestry of Scotland Centre Director Sandy Maxwell-Forbes said: “The Great Tapestry of Scotland is an artwork truly born from the love of the places, people and stories that feature within it. I’m delighted to reveal that this great love and world-renowned story telling continues into our opening Iconic Scotland exhibit. We have received wonderful contributions from some of the most inspiring and iconic people. People are such a big part of Scotland’s story. It is the people of Scotland, their achievements and their warmth of welcome that really put our much-loved small country on the map. It is their accounts throughout history and their continued passion and pride that give us our identity. Indeed, this is why the Great Tapestry of Scotland has received global acclaim and also why there will be so much to celebrate in the Year of Stories in 2022. We want to ensure our new national gallery and exhibition space will always be where Scotland’s story truly begins.”
For more information visit: www.greattapestryofscotland.com