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Stitchers make history in country-wide arts project

By Will Clark

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The beautifully-designed panel created by Caithness Stitchers.
The beautifully-designed panel created by Caithness Stitchers.

CAITHNESS played its part in creating the largest community arts project in Scotland when the finished article was unveiled in Edinburgh.

Caithness Stitchers proudly saw their contribution to The Great Tapestry of Scotland hanging at Holyrood on Tuesday.

The panel joined 160 others from across the country to form a 143-metre embroidered tapestry depicting the entire history of Scotland.

The ambitious project was spearheaded by author Alexander McCall Smith together with historian Alistair Moffat and artist Andrew Crummy.

Members of the group created a panel entitled A Caithness School 1851 which took them 650 hours to complete.

The work depicted the scene of a Caithness classroom from the era with a list of names of the schools that were open in the county in 1851.

Around the classroom, which forms the centre of the piece, famous landmarks and people are also recognised including Alexander Bain, from Watten, who invented the electric clock, Duncansby Stacks, Morven and the Altimarlach Cross to commemorate the battle which took place at Wick in 1680.

McCall Smith said the unveiling of the tapestry was a wonderful day for the hundreds of stitchers involved in the project.

He said: " It marks the end of the first part of this tapestry’s life – the stage of its inception and creation.

"Now we start the second stage, when the tapestry begins its life’s work.

"And that life’s work is to bring pleasure to the many thousands of people who will see it each year."

He added: "The history of Scotland is a fascinating tale, this tapestry will bring that story to life in a way that no other single artefact can match.

"What we are seeing with its unveiling at the Scottish Parliament is the revealing to the world of a treasure of astonishing beauty and interest."

The 160 historical panels each depict key moments from Scotland’s past, from pre-history to the 21st century, including the crawl of the glaciers to Dolly the Sheep and from the Hillman Imp to Archie Gemmill’s famous goal in 1978.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland will be on display at the Scottish Parliament until Saturday, September 21, with plans to tour the artwork and find a permanent home for the piece.

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