Heriot-Watt in new exhibition celebrating Scottish Borders contribution to textiles

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SOTD Students
L-R: Picture shows third year Design for Textiles students, Kaci McEwan and Emma Kilpatrick, alongside fourth year Printed Textiles student Claire Kennedy.

The icons of the Scottish Borders and the region's immense contribution to international fashion, textiles and interior design is the inspiration behind a new public exhibition at the five-star Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre in Galashiels. 

A Yarn Worth Spinning is a community-led exhibit telling the people's story of one of the world's most prominent textile regions. Developed by academics at Heriot-Watt University's School of Textiles and Design in Galashiels, alongside local textile enthusiasts, the exhibit features new Borders inspired textile designs and an exclusive documentary. 

Funded by The Year of Stories Community Fund and Energise Galashiels Trust, the exhibit goes on display for the first time from Wednesday 6 July 2022. 

Speaking about Heriot-Watt's involvement, Dr Lucy Robertson, Assistant Professor at Heriot-Watt University's School of Textiles and Design, said: “We were thrilled to support The Great Tapestry of Scotland in putting together A Yarn Worth Spinning. We're incredibly proud of all our students and so impressed with the designs by local school pupils featured.

“Design centres on working with, and for, people. Inspired by the people, place, heritage and all the opportunities Galashiels presents, every element of this exhibit highlights the interdependence of economic, social and cultural factors on communities. It truly evidences how local heritage inspires the designers of tomorrow to learn from what came before and support communities to continue to grow and flourish in a sustainable way.”

The exhibit centres around a series of Borders inspired textiles, clothing and interior designs by some of the University's leading textile and design students.  Each of the designs reinforce how textile heritage can be used to narrate, design and generate sustainable futures for Galashiels and the wider Scottish Borders. 

Emma Kilpatrick a third year Design for Textiles student at Heriot-Watt, whose Bernat Klein and Borders moorland inspired textiles features in the exhibit, added: “I feel honoured to be part of this brilliant opportunity. It is exciting to have such an amazing museum so close to our campus. It is really fitting for the museum to be in Galashiels due to its rich textile history. When you are emersed in this textile culture, it pushes you to explore creative boundaries and new ideas every day.”

In total, 13  students representing interior architecture, textile and design from Heriot-Watt University are contributing their own eye-catching creations to the exhibition. 

Announcing the opening of A Yarn Worth Spinning, Centre Director for The Great Tapestry of Scotland, Sandy Maxwell-Forbes said: “The Great Tapestry of Scotland is where the people's story of Scotland begins. Allowing people to tell their own stories in their own way, and inspiring future generations to realise their full potential is at the heart everything we do, so we are absolutely delighted to be working with Heriot-Watt University, Redeeming Features and the local community to showcase this inspiring new exhibit. We are also thrilled that, thanks the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund and Energise Galashiels Trust, we can open this opportunity up for everyone to enjoy free of charge

“As the home to one of the world's longest tapestries, handstitched by over 1,000 stitchers from across Scotland, featuring some of the country's greatest textile stories, it is incredibly fitting that everyone can now enjoy the story of the Borders' world-renowned textile heritage in our permanent new five-star visitor centre in Galashiels.”

A Yarn Worth Spinning will be displayed in The Great Tapestry of Scotland's Discovery Centre from Wednesday 6 July to 17 July. Entry to the exhibit is free for everyone. No booking required.

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Craig McManamon