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Tapestry display features Scottish connections

Tour director Jenny Bruce shows the embroidered panel depicting the Ship Hector at the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry Exhibition at Glasgow Square. The exhibit is being hosted locally by the St. Andrew’s Society of Pictou County and the Town of New Glasgow.
Tour director Jenny Bruce shows the embroidered panel depicting the Ship Hector at the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry Exhibition at Glasgow Square. The exhibit is being hosted locally by the St. Andrew’s Society of Pictou County and the Town of New Glasgow.

Folks attending an exhibition this week at Glasgow Square are seeing a lot of unusual stories.

“I call them the forgotten stories, they’ve been buried for too long,” said Jenny Bruce, the tour director for the Scottish Disapora Tapestry Exhibit.

“I call them the forgotten stories, they’ve been buried for too long,” said Jenny Bruce, the tour director for the Scottish Disapora Tapestry Exhibit.

The exhibit has toured Europe, Australia and Canada, making its only Nova Scotian stop in New Glasgow.

The project brings together stories from communities across the globe, documenting their Scottish connections in more than 300 embroidered panels.

“People are absolutely overcome by the wealth of stories throughout the world,” said Bruce.

For example, the writer of the famous Australian tune Waltzing Matilda has Scottish connections.

“There’s a magic in each one,” said Bruce, who is also an artist and historical researcher. “It’s a pleasure to hear the stories behind each one, for me too.”

Visitors to the exhibit can purchase a guide book that tells the stories behind each panel, or they can download a free app on their mobile device that will allow them to scan a bar code beside each one, linking to the story.

Since opening on Monday, about 200 people have visited the display, coming from around the province to view it. Bruce said the exhibit is popular for several reasons.

“First you’ve got different groups of people – stitchers and embroiderers, then historians interested in the history of it, and also people with their own clan names,” she said. “There’s a breadth of people coming in different ways to enjoy these embroidered panels.”

For many visitors, it’s simply pride in Scottish ancestry, said Bruce.

She said crafters are particularly interested in the uniqueness and intricacy of some of the stitches, and the techniques used to give 3D qualities.

She said the exhibit is also an easy way for people to learn about and remember history.

“It’s a wonderful way for children to understand history through a fun element.”

The Prestoungrange Arts Festival team came up with the project as a way to mark Homecoming 2014 events in Scotland. “The idea was they wished to do an event celebrating the contributions Scots have made throughout the world,” said Bruce.

Troy MacCulloch, a member of the St. Andrew’s Society of Pictou County and a councillor for the Town of New Glasgow, got involved with the project back in 2011 when the organizers contacted members of Scottish associations in 34 countries around the world, asking them to participate. At the time he was on the board of directors for the Federation for Scottish Culture in Nova Scotia.

He assembled a group that gave ideas for some of the panels, which were then designed by Andrew Crummy, a Scottish graphic artist and illustrator. Once the design was complete, the linen panels with an outline done in pencil were sent back to the communities to have local people stitch them.

Three panels related to Nova Scotia are displayed together, including one depicting the Ship Hector, which brought Scottish settlers to the Pictou area in 1773.

The exhibit is open daily until Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. On Nov. 11 it opens at 2 p.m. in observance of Remembrance Day.

 

Did you know: 

Diaspora means a scattering of people throughout the world.

Tapestry is the collective name for the embroidered panels.

More than 1,000 people have taken part in producing the panels.

Completion time for each panel varied, from one month to two months or longer.

The linen for each panel came from the town of Kirkcaldy, Scotland, and the threads were supplied by Appletons in England.

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