Yarns about Scotland’s rich history as tapestry comes to Kirkcaldy

Ed and Jennifer Link from Auchtermuchty  helped stitch one of the panels of the Great Tapestry of Scotland.
Ed and Jennifer Link from Auchtermuchty helped stitch one of the panels of the Great Tapestry of Scotland.
  • The Great Tapestry of Scotland comes to Kirkcaldy
  • Chance for Fifers to see the work which depicts life and history in Scotland over the years
  • A number of Fifers were involved in the creation of the tapestry, which features many aspects of the Kingdom

It was a project that saw more than 1000 people around Scotland get involved in creating a piece of craftwork that is over 140 metres long.

And now locals will get the chance to see the Great Tapestry of Scotland in the Lang Toun as it comes to Kirkcaldy Galleries this weekend.

The free exhibition will open its doors to the public on Saturday offering people the chance to take a step back in time and learn a lot more about Scotland and its past by looking at the tapestry.

The Great Tapestry is one of the biggest community arts projects to take place in the country and it consists of more than 160 panels.

When the tapestry comes to Fife, it’s also a chance for those living in the Kingdom who were involved in its creation to have it right here on their doorstep.

Husband and wife Ed and Jennifer Link were just two of the stitchers involved in working on one of the panels.

The panel which Ed and Jennifer Link worked on

The panel which Ed and Jennifer Link worked on

They were part of a group, who called themselves ‘Tee’d Off’, that created panel 63 which depicts the country’s golfing heritage.

But, for the couple, the whole project was a brand new experience, as neither of them had done any stitching before.

Ed explained: “A friend was involved in the Preston Pans tapestry and we were trying to see it, and we did see it in St Margaret’s Cathedral in Edinburgh.

“Within a week of seeing that one, a note came up in an email about the Great Tapestry of Scotland. It was asking if people wanted to get involved. I thought it sounded like a good idea. It said full training would be given.

“We thought it would be a come-and-add-a-stitch type thing and, because I paint, we thought it would be interesting. Thinking we would just add one stitch, we registered.

“It wasn’t until 18 months later out of the blue we received an email to say the work was starting. At that point we discovered we’d been assigned to a stitchers group.”

Jennifer continued: “We had never done anything like it before.

“We thought we’d go along to the group and see what it was about.

“When we got there, we discovered everyone else was experienced, in fact there was one lady who taught tapestry.”

But Ed and Jennifer didn’t let their lack of experience in the craft put them off.

They continued with the project, receiving some guidance from the rest of the group as they went.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland was the brainchild of author Alexander McCall Smith, who worked together with historian Alistair Moffat and artist Andrew Crummy – and of course the stitchers from across Scotland – to produce one of the world’s longest embroidered tapestries.

The stitchers were left to translate Andrew Crummy’s descriptive artwork.

“The group had been given a pack containing a large square of canvas, a pile of different coloured threads,” said Ed.

“It literally was an outline on the canvas and some colour suggestions.

“We were not really given instructions on what to do.

“A lot was left to interpretation.

“Everyone in the group would take the canvas home and add a bit extra before we’d meet again and it would be handed to the next person.

“And the more that was added the heavier it became.

“We started in the November and we had until the end of June to get it done.

“There were times when we were unsure if we’d manage to finish on time.”

But the work was finished on time and was displayed alongside all the other panels at the Scottish Parliament.

Ed and Jennifer said that despite their inexperience at embroidery they enjoyed the project.

Ed continued: “We’re glad we did it, it was good to be part of it.

“We didn’t know what we were getting in to really at the start, and we had no idea of the sheer scale of the project and what was involved.”

Jennifer added: “It was a commitment as we didn’t want to let anyone down.

“We met some lovely people and very talented stitchers.

“And we’ve learned a few stitches on the way.”

Among the panels in the tapestry are 12 that are likely to be of particular interest while it is here in Kirkcaldy as they depict life and history in Fife.

They include Dunfermline’s royal history, the formation of St Andrews University, Adam Smith in Kirkcaldy, the construction of the Forth Bridge and a portrayal of the history of Glenrothes.

The tapestry comes to Kirkcaldy Galleries from Saturday to Sunday, September 20.