Kirkcaldy was honoured to host the Great Tapestry of Scotland last year and a wonderful legacy of that exhibition has been unveiled – the Kirkcaldy Tapestry Panel.
Designed by Great Tapestry of Scotland artist Andrew Crummy and overseen by Great Tapestry stitch co-ordinator Dorie Wilkie, the panel was made public at a ceremony yesterday (Wednesday) at Kirkcaldy Galleries
It was a unique one-off community project which depicts and was literally made by Kirkcaldy – hundreds of people who visited the Great Tapestry exhibition, many of whom had never picked up a sewing needle before, contributed a single stitch.
Hard at work completing the panel was a team of 12 volunteer stitchers.
“It’s the amonut of people that put stitches into it that’s amazing,” said Andrew Crummy. “There’s 700 stitches in it and it’s beautifully done.”
Andrew told the Press he had been approached by the museum two years ago to design a panel depicting Kirkcaldy’s heritage and he completed the final image last year.
The design incorporates many local symbols – an unravelling roll of linoleum provides a background to an excerpt from the poem The Boy on the Train: “For I ken mysel’ by the queer-like smell that the next stop’s Kirkcaddy!”
The panel also features a Wemyssware cat, references to coal mining and Sandford Fleming, and a ticket commemorating Raith Rovers’ win over Bayern Munich in the Coca Cola Cup in 1994.
Thelma Grieg, a volunteer stitcher said: “When we worked on it we did wonder how it was going to turn out. Some of the children were better at stitching than the grown ups and there were people from all over the world, including Canada and Denmark, a lot of them with a historical connection to this area as well.”
She added: “I have no idea how many people worked on it in total but it has to be in the hundreds. What was quite amazing was how many men were interested in doing it.
“They were quite hesitant at first but then they really got into it,” Andrew added.
The panel will be on display until the end of the year before being added to the permanent museum collection.
Gavin Grant, Fife Cultural Trust’s collections leader, said: “This community art project is a testament to the hard work of many hundreds of volunteers who enjoyed playing their part.”
It was a shocking crime which dumbfounded the nation but the identity of Kirkcaldy’s notorious tapestry snatcher still remains a mystery to this day.
In September the thief visited Kirkcaldy Galleries in the final days of the Great Tapestry of Scotland exhibition.
The display, which featured 160 panels, had been a phenomenal success, bringing in 50,000 vistors from all across the country, but that morning had been unusually quiet.
Away from prying eyes, the thief took their opportunity and, in a move which has spawned a multitude of Da Vinci Code-type theories, stole a section depicting the famous Rosslyn Chapel.
While the panel was not considered to be valuable in price, author Alexander McCall Smith said it was a “terrible blow” for a project which had brought joy to many and was now considered to be a national treasure.
An appeal for the panel’s safe return met with no response, which was particularly disappointing for the seven stitchers in Midlothian who had taken over 500 hours to painstakingly create it.
Andrew Crummy told the Press: “Initially they didn’t want to recreate it but considering it again they thought ‘we can’t let them win.’
“Also they wanted to be part of the Great Tapestry when it’s permanently housed in the Borders.”
The section is due to be finished later this year.