After lunch at the on site restaurant, we went to see The Great Tapestry of Scotland. Of course, strictly speaking it is a crewel work embroidery rather than a tapestry, but not dissimilar to the techniques used for the Bayeux Tapestry, but with far more variety in the stitching. You can read all about it and see a slide show of ALL the panels on the website. Photography was allowed, without flash, so here are are some of the panels I liked the most.
The panels were displayed on stands like quilt stands in two rooms. Visitors tended to bottleneck in the first section, and apparently the best time to go is at 10 a.m., before it gets too crowded. I went back to take photos of the first section towards the end of the afternoon.
The sections dealing with prehistoric and medieval Scotland were some of the most beautiful, but then these periods gave designer Andrew Crummy plenty of strong images to work with.
Every section was accompanied by an information panel which listed the stitchers. The group sizes ranged from just one or two to over a dozen. Unfortunately visitors sometimes seemed to be getting more absorbed in reading the panels than looking at the tapestry.
Apparently, the groups were given a lot of leeway in their choice of stitches. Some panels have a wide variety of different stitches and textures, others not so many.
Unfortunately the first room didn't have any blinds on the windows, and the strong sunlight pouring in sometimes made it difficult to see the tapestry well. This constant exposure to daylight can't be doing the tapestry much good at the moment and I hope it doesn't start to cause any fading damage. The second room had blackout blinds.
Visitors could add a stitch to an extra panel which will be added to the end of the tapestry and names are being recorded.
This was one of my favourite panels - the battle of Dunnichen, thought to be the events depicted on the Aberlemno Stones.
"The Coming of the Vikings' was another stunning design. As with some of the other panels, the stitches used on the boat sections were reminiscent of some hitomezashi patterns. Sashiko could be stitched in a similar way.
On the whole, the more dramatic and often violent incidents from early and medieval history, combined with the decorative art of the period, made for more interesting panels than many of the post-Restoration history. "Fingal's Cave" was one of the better C19th themed panels.
Paisley designs lent themselves to a decorative treatment.
"James Watt and the Steam Engine" and the panel about Edinburgh's new town were two of the more interesting designs about the C18th subjects.
On the whole, it seemed the more modern panels gave the artist less to work with in terms of images, although "Dolly the Sheep" made good use of DNA diagrams.
There were two double width panels, one at the beginning and another towards the end. The variety of stitches used to suggest the sea in this panel were varied.
hardback book with all the panels and a paperback about the making of the tapestry.