Fife towns at forefront of Scotland's first flax and linen festival
Villages and towns from across Fife are coming together this September for Scotland’s inaugural Festival of Flax and Linen.
The festival, which will be held from September 3-19, celebrates design and heritage across the Kingdom with a main hub in Kirkcaldy and satellite events in Ceres, Falkland, Strathmiglo, Markinch, Auchtertool, Burntisland, Dunfermline, Inverkeithing and Silverburn Park.
It will feature a range of displays, walks, talks and workshops showcasing linen and flax heritage and contemporary design.
Flax is the grass plant from which fibres are extracted to make linen. Just as yellow rapeseed is commonly seen across the countryside today, 200 years ago the people of Fife would have been familiar with the blue flax flower.
To mark the inaugural Festival, village hosts have had a chance to grow their own, so the blue flower will appear once again across the Kingdom.
The festival’s main exhibition will be in the former Stocks Linen Mill in Linktown, Kirkcaldy, now Stocks Carpets, where there will be an exhibition of artefacts and stories including contemporary designs in flax fibre and linen from Scotland and beyond.
Festival organisers are asking Fifers and other visitors to bring along their linen memories and artefacts to help enliven understanding of this once thriving industry.
Director of the Festival and Curator of Journeys in Design, Dr John Ennis, has been researching and exhibiting “Our Linen Stories” for the last four years, travelling around Scotland with a focus in Fife, displaying in The Merchants House 2018, Olympia Arcade 2019 and with a pop-up exhibition at Kirkcaldy Galleries in 2020.
“When people think of Scottish textiles it’s often tartans, tweeds and Paisley shawls that spring to mind, but linen should be up there too. It’s role in the story of Scotland was huge but it’s slipping out of history and at risk of being forgotten. Fife was at the heart of all that: flax and linen once played a huge part in the landscape, prosperity and culture of the Kingdom.”
The 2021 festival is entitled Grow: Creative Culture and Regeneration. The events programme includes a ‘Twilight Talk’ called Making Well with Heritage at the Old Kirk In Kirkcaldy. There will also be a tour of the former flax mill and demo at Silverburn Park – where there are National Heritage Lottery and Fife Council funded plans to renovate the mill into a visitor centre.
Other satellite events include heritage and design walks in Strathmiglo, Markinch, Falkland, Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline and Inverkeithing, an Open Garden at Auchtertool House with a damask display, and Open Studios in Burntisland - Susie Redman’s Platform Studio - and Ceres with Michael Wolchover and Kate Downie of Birchtree Studio.
Dates and events can be found at wwwjourneysindesign.com and will be bookable on Eventbrite. All events will be free.