Biggar Embroiderers celebrate their 40th with the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry at New Lanark

Members of Biggar Embroirdery Guild are staging an exhibition in conjunction with the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry at New Lanark, celebrating the group's 40th anniversary.' And they recently toasted long-serving members at a celebration lunch at the World Heritage Site.
Members of Biggar Embroirdery Guild are staging an exhibition in conjunction with the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry at New Lanark, celebrating the group's 40th anniversary.' And they recently toasted long-serving members at a celebration lunch at the World Heritage Site.

New Lanark has a long and proud history in textile production so there can surely be few better homes for a tapestry exhibition.

The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry opened at the World Heritage Site on March 2.

One of the many panels now on display at New Lanark on the final stop of the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry's worldwide tour. The exhibition runs until April 28 and admission is free.

One of the many panels now on display at New Lanark on the final stop of the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry's worldwide tour. The exhibition runs until April 28 and admission is free.

And over the course of the first weekend more than 100 people viewed its 305 embroidered panels.

Those who also saw the Great Tapestry of Scotland when it visited New Lanark will not be surprised to learn that it was designed by the same man, Andrew Crummy.

As part of the diaspora’s final stop on a worldwide tour, Andrew took time out today (Tuesday) to speak to locals about the work involved.

It was a great coup for New Lanark Trust.

Sample stitches in closer detail with a tour of the impressive diaspora tapestry, now housed at New Lanark following a tour around the globe.

Sample stitches in closer detail with a tour of the impressive diaspora tapestry, now housed at New Lanark following a tour around the globe.

Andrew Cuthbertson, marketing officer, said: “We’re delighted to be hosting the diaspora at the end of its worldwide tour.

“New Lanark is the ideal venue for exhibitions of this kind, given our history here with textiles.

“Admission is free and visitors are being given a ticket which they can then use in May and June to enjoy 25 per cent off the visitor centre’s admission fee.

“We were delighted with the turnout in the first weekend – 42 people came along on the Saturday and 63 on the Sunday.

Biggar Embroiderers Guild founding member Phyllis Tweedie receives her certificate and flowers from Eveleen Garvie and  Elizabeth Lyon.

Biggar Embroiderers Guild founding member Phyllis Tweedie receives her certificate and flowers from Eveleen Garvie and Elizabeth Lyon.

“And I’m sure we’ll be welcoming many more visitors, keen to see the intracacy of the designs.

“We were also delighted that Andrew agreed to discuss the tapestry and his work with our visitors.

“It gave people a chance to learn more about the project, as well as the many others Andrew has also been involved with.”

As its name suggests, the tapestry celebrates note-worthy Scots who have migrated all over the world and had a profound impact on the areas in which they later settled.

Bringing together stories from those communities, as well as documenting their Scottish connections, it is a heart-felt homage to the determination, courage and achievement of Scottish migrants and their descendants.

Andrew said: “Many notable Scots are depicted in the tapestry.

“They include Margaret, Maid of Norway, who was recognised as Queen of Scots following the death of her grandfather, King Alexander III, in March 1286.

“Her death in Orkney while travelling to Scotland sparked off the disputed succession which led to the Wars of Scottish Independence.

“Mary Queen of Scots is also included, as is John Muir, the father of national parks in America, and Mary Seacole, a British-Jamaican nurse who set up the British Hotel behind the lines during the Crimean War.”

Locals are being invited to contribute to a New Lanark community panel which will serve as a lasting memory of the tapestry’s visit.

Andrew added: “During the exhibition, we’re running drop-in sewing sessions.

“The public will also be able to contribute to the community panel, paying just £2 to add their own stitches to it.

“The A3 panel has been designed by Rory Martin, the brother of our exhibitions officer Helen Martin.

“It’s based on the themes of the diaspora tapestry, focusing on Robert Owen’s move from New Lanark to New Harmony in America.

“The panel will be kept by New Lanark Trust as a legacy of the exhibition.

“The village is very much commnuity led which is why we want locals to work on it.”

Biggar and District Embroiderers’ Guild is also staging an exhibition at New Lanark to coincide with the diaspora tapestry.

The group was formed in 1979 so it’s an exciting way for members to celebrate its 40th year. Embroideries and textiles created by members over the years are on display.

Some 27 embroidery postcards created by the Scottish branches of the Guild for the 2012 London Olympic Games are also included in the exhibition.

Members met at New Lanark recently to toast founding member Phyllis Tweedie, who received a certificate from Eveleen Garvie, chairwoman of the Scottish Embroiderers’ Guild, and a bouquet from fellow members.

Three other members with more than 35 years service also recieved flowers, presented by Biggar Guild president, Elizabeth Lyon.

She said: “We’re delighted Eveleen joined us to help celebrate this milestone.”

The first meeting of the Biggar Guild was held in the Elphinstone Hotel in September 1979; 47 women signed up to join.

The branch currently has 15 members; the oldest is 96!

New Lanark’s textile story continues

Textile production and innovation has been the continuous thread throughout New Lanark’s history.

In its early years, the village was the largest cotton manufacturer in Scotland.

Today, it continues to produce more than 60 shades of high-quality woollen yarn using historic textile machinery.

New Lanark Trust also launched the world’s first organic tartan in 2015.

Through an exciting partnership with tapestry makers, the village offers the perfect backdrop for Andrew Crummy’s latest exhibition, on show until the end of April.

The Trust is delighted to be the last stop on the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry’s worldwide tour will.

It is the fourth exhibition to open in the redeveloped Exhibition Gallery.

Visitors will be able to explore the tapestry, free of charge, until April 28.

Scottish Embroiderers’ Guild member Mary McCarron will also be running weekly drop-in sewing sessions during the exhibition’s run.

There will be sampler style projects for people to practice different techniques and stitches, with Mary being on hand to offer advice.

The public will also be able to contribute to the New Lanark community panel being created as a lasting memory of the tapestry’s visit.

Drop-in sessions will be held from 10.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 3.30pm on March 23, March 30, April 3, April 10, April 13, April 17 and April 24.

To find out more visit www.newlanark.org/visitorcentre/scottish-diaspora.shtml.