Part of one of Scotland’s most popular artworks will be on display in Benbecula during November and December.
Thirty panels from the Great Tapestry of Scotland will be on display at Museum nan Eilean (Sgoil Lionacleit) from 14th November to 22nd December. A number of events for all ages are being planned to coincide with the exhibition.
One of the nation’s largest community arts projects, the 142m tapestry depicts the history of Scotland from the landscape’s geological formation to the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. The story is told in 159 boldly designed and intricately stitched panels that are the work of over 1,000 stitchers from across Scotland.
Since its hugely popular debut exhibition at the Scottish Parliament in September 2013, the tapestry has been taken to the hearts of Scottish communities. Over 325,000 visitors from all over the world have visited tapestry exhibitions at venues including the Scottish Parliament, Stirling Castle, Paisley Thread Mill, New Lanark, Aberdeen Art Gallery, and Ayr Town Hall.
Visitors have been amazed over by the tapestry’s epic scope and fascinated by the details of its stitching.
Originator of the Great Tapestry of Scotland, bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith, said: “I am delighted that the Great Tapestry of Scotland is coming to the Western Isles. The Western Isles have made a great contribution to the history of Scotland and this is reflected in a number of the tapestry’s panels. I hope that as many people as possible will take the chance to see this magnificent and moving work of art when it comes to them in November and December.”
Alistair Moffat, historian and co-chairman of the project, said: “This is a history of all of Scotland, and one that attempts to compass not only the whole nation but also all of its people as it tells the stories of shepherds, weavers, ploughmen, crofters, fishermen and all of the people who made our story come alive. Kings, queens and other powerful people have their place, but this is a unique way of telling our history – because it was made by the people of Scotland, a thousand stitchers, from Berwickshire to the Butt of Lewis.”
Trish Campbell Botten, Principal Officer Libraries and Heritage, added: “We are delighted to welcome the Great Tapestry of Scotland to the Outer Hebrides in our council museum space in Benbecula. This is a wonderful opportunity to see such an impressive piece of art and history on our own doorsteps and to see the work created by local stitchers.”
Five of the tapestry’s stitchers are residents of the Western Isles. Lewis stitchers Margaret and Mary MacLeod combined to make an early panel representing the visit of the Greek traveller Pytheas, who took a reading of latitude at Calanais in the fourth century BC.
A stitching group who named themselves the ‘Sea-Mistresses’ worked on the panel depicting the loss of HMY Iolaire in 1919. This group consisted of Tracey MacLeod and Gillian Scott-Forest from Harris and Moira MacPherson from South Uist. Over the months of winter stitching, this group sent their panel back and forth to each other in the care of Caledonian MacBrayne on the Leverburgh-Berneray ferry.
November: Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat 10am-1pm and 2-5pm; Thur 10am-1pm and 2pm-7pm; Closed Sun & Mon.
December: Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat 10am-1pm and 2-5pm; Fri 10am-1pm and 2pm-7pm; Closed Sun & Mon.
FREE ADMISSION; Tapestry merchandise is available, payment by cash or cheque only.