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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Scottish Diaspora Exhibition in Adelaide

I am grateful to Junette Steffensen, from the Embroiderers' Guild for reminding me to get to the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry Exhibition before it closed at the Burnside Town Hall in Adelaide last Sunday. I got there on the last afternoon and was so glad I made it.

A brainchild of the Prestoungrange Arts Festival in Prestonpans, the Scottish Diaspora project aims to involve communities around the world in celebration of Scottish heritage and culture, the people and places which connect Scotland to its global diaspora.
After the success of the Prestonpans Tapestry, the community set about planning the Diaspora project, identifying 25 communities world-wide and engaging them in an exploration of local Scottish connection and story, followed by design and stitching of panels to be collected into another large tapestry. A number of Australian communities were involved, and an exhibition of the completed panels is touring Australia this summer, beginning last month in Goolwa in South Australia, where a number of panels were contributed.
There are panels from the Baltic, Western Europe, the Americas, Canada, Asia, Australasia, Africa and the British Isles. Some are broadly community based, some family specific.

I'd have liked to have gone back to look more closely at the New Zealand panels. 

I was fascinated by the Italian ones. 

I had not done my homework before going, and was unprepared for the scale and impact. The whole tapestry can be explored on the project website - and is well worth the investment of time.

I love the capture of local stories in the panels. The consistent template design allows for local interpretation, but also provides a unity over all - evident when standing back and looking at the gallery of panels. Making the panels would have given local communities, especially stitchers, much to think and talk about as they designed and interpreted. It will continue to interest and engage both local and international communities in consideration of the contribution of Scots to civilisation and community.
It would have taken me days - even weeks - to do justice to all the panels on display. It was overwhelming in scope. If I were still teaching high school history I'd be using this tapestry with students.

I focused on the Australian panels, a scan of all and a bit more protracted look at Canada.

I felt privileged to have had this opportunity - and inspired on a whole lot of fronts. If you get a chance to see it don't miss out.


margaret said...

looks like a very interesting exhibition

Jillian said...

Thanks Margaret, it was. What I forgot to say was that they are not in fact tapestries, but embroideries, mostly worked in chain and stem stitch.

Gordon Prestoungrange said...

I'm so delighted you enjoyed the Exhibition. Those of us who oversaw its creation in Prestonpans were determined to take it back around the globe as best we could so the 'local' stitchers could see what the others had done as well. The exhibitions are all 'community led' by the original stitchers groups and tough to convene but again and again the welcome and reception overwhelms us.
Did you know there's an APP available for it all on Apple and Android stores and of course the book of the artwork is available from

Monica said...

Very interesting! I see that it may still come to my area next year, so I will watch out for it. CA13 would be my local group, the Scarborough Logging Bee, but I don't know the makers personally. I am sorry there isn't a photo on the website for CA31 Gung Haggis Fat Choy! That seems like a very Canadian interpretation to me. :D

Jillian said...

Ah, Monica, that I can do. I nearly posted it above but was having trouble with the layout and didn't add it! I have added it in above!

Monica said...

LOL, thank you, that is brilliant! I bet there was a year when Robbie Burns day coincided with the Chinese New Year. Well, I guess they are always in the vicinity of each other in late January. That is pure Canada! No wonder they memorialized it, they must have been rolling in the aisles at that dinner!