New tapestry project going global and high tech (29/06/2012)
The people behind the record-breaking Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry now have their sights set on a global project to record the Scottish Diaspora.
(Photos: Gareth Easton)
Launched today (28 June) in Edinburgh, the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, which has recently secured support from Creative Scotland (£80,000) and the Scottish Government (£60,000), will be embroidered by volunteers from communities around the world where Scots have settled over the centuries.
Although embroidery is one of the world’s oldest art forms, this will be a groundbreaking tapestry, incorporating embroidered QR codes to provide instant information and interpretation. The codes will lead smart phone users to online background such as the history depicted in each panel, the embroiderers involved and the communities they come from.
Professor Petra Wend, Principal of Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, has seen at first hand the use of this technology in Barga in Italy where they are routinely used on artwork all over the town. She said: “This project demonstrates a very creative use of QR codes, which are now being used in innovative ways throughout the world. The tapestry merges a traditional art form with the use of modern communication technology which will help appeal to younger people as well as educating and informing audiences across the generations.”
At least 25 communities will take part – from North America, Australasia, Europe and Africa – all places with ties to the Diaspora. All the panels will be finished by January 2014 and will be brought together in Scotland as a central part of the Homecoming 2014 celebrations.
At the same time, the Diaspora communities will be encouraged to form partnerships with communities in Scotland. A great many will have historical
links with a particular place, but those that don’t will be able to ‘adopt’ a Scottish community to interact with.
Inspiration for the tapestry came from Scottish writer and broadcaster Billy Kay’s book The Scottish World. A great supporter of the project, Billy Kay commented: “I have had the great good fortune to record the voices and the stories of people from the diaspora – the descendants of generals in Sweden, merchants in Poland, sugar workers in Hawaii, wine growers in Portugal, and missionaries in Africa. What they all had in common was knowledge of their family history and pride in their Scottish roots.
“Now there is going to be a stunning artistic depiction of the amazing contribution the Scots have made on every continent, and I for one can’t wait to see the visual glory of the final tapestry.”
As the tapestry panels develop - drama, music, literature and storytelling from each community will help celebrate the project and form part of the final exhibition programme in 2014. Some of the Scottish venues likely to host the finished tapestry include Queen Margaret University, the Scottish Storytelling Centre and St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh.
“We’re especially excited by the educational potential of this project,” said Yvonne Murphy, one of the project co-ordinators. “We hope that schools will take the opportunity to research local links to the Diaspora, perhaps following the history of particular local families who emigrated.
“Our experience of the Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry is that this combination of heritage and creativity is a real winner and sparks enormous enthusiasm among participants. The huge number of people that have come to see the Battle Tapestry is also testament to its popularity among audiences. From a tourism perspective, we’re sure that this project will generate many thousands of additional visitors to Scotland, and provide a lasting legacy well beyond 2014.“
Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: "Scotland has an international reputation for creativity and innovation, with a rich cultural heritage and warm, welcoming people. Bringing together local communities from countries across the globe and combining traditional skills with new technologies, the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry is a spectacular way to tell the story of Scotland’s place in the world. This tapestry will be a magnificent showpiece in 2014, our second Year of Homecoming, and a lasting legacy of the year."
Iain Munro, director of Creative Development at Creative Scotland, said: “This project provides a fantastic opportunity for our disparate communities across the world to join in the Year of Creative Scotland 2012 celebrations, connecting them with communities at home and attracting international visitors to Scotland to celebrate our rich culture and heritage. The tapestry will be a superb addition to the Homecoming celebration in 2014, connecting modern day technology with our shared histories through the unique use of embroidered QR codes.”
Anyone interested in getting involved in the Diaspora project should contact , at email@example.com or 01875 819922. The newly launched website is scottishdiasporatapestry.org.
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