Producing The Dundee Tapestry has been an evolutionary process over a five-year period. After coming up with the idea in 2019, John Fyffe MBE (Nine Incorporated Trades) organised an initial steering group which included Dr. Frances Stevenson (Textile Designer, DJCAD), Alister Rutherford (Embroiderer’s Guild) and Rhoda Miller (Local Historian), to plan how the project could be managed and delivered. The primary focus was always about engaging with the people of Dundee – in terms of volunteer stitchers, stories about the city and designing the content and illustrations.
The steering group expanded as the project grew. Andrew Crummy MBE (Artist), the late Eddie Small (Writer and Historian), Lyndsey Currie (Textile Designer), Caitlyn Fyffe (Marketing and PR), Judy Robertson (Social Media) and Aileen Scoular (Website Copywriter and stitcher) all joined the team to provide various areas of expertise.
Themes & Timeline
Eight main themes were highlighted as a starting point to reflect key areas pertinent to Dundee:
Each theme comprises a group of panels, building a picture of that topic through sub-themes and different perspectives. Currently, The Dundee Tapestry has 35 panels. But, importantly, the themed approach was adopted to allow The Dundee Tapestry to grow and expand because other themes, panels and extended timescales can be added in the future.
A definitive timeline from the mid-19th Century to the present day provides the parameters within which The Dundee Tapestry is set. Owing to the amount of information involved, this was a necessary constraint due to funding.
Designing the panels
The Dundee Tapestry’s circular structure was selected by the design team to reflect the growth spiral structures of the eminent 19th century biologist Sir D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson who taught at the University of Dundee.
The panel’s structural layouts were designed by Andrew Crummy to reflect Thompson’s work, using eight different templates, with variations of circles and spirals. The circular design also reflects and incorporates The Dundee Tapestry logo. Andrew invited Frances Stevenson to join him in designing some of the final panels.
Pencil sketches onto fabric provided a ‘skeleton’ structure to enable the stitchers to begin, and to allow more content to be added to each panel as further research was carried out. Researching the content was an important, ongoing process which was carried out by stitchers themselves, alongside steering group members. Illustrations to reflect the research were added throughout the making of each panel.
Finishing the panels
Once stitched, The Dundee Tapestry panels were stretched by the Textile Design staff team at DJCAD, and backed by stitchers Margaret Craig, Sheila Mathieson and Sarah Houstoun.
The Dundee Tapestry website provides content highlights and a concise synopsis for each panel. The text for this website was written by Aileen Scoular, and researched and proof-read by Judy Robertson and Rhoda Miller.
A key aim of The Dundee Tapestry was to include the community, both as volunteer stitchers and as people who could provide stories about the city. Workshops were organised at key stages to invite members of the public and community organisations to add a stich to the panels, and share their memories of growing up in the city.
Public talks were given by members of the steering group, while many stitchers were ‘out and about’ across their own communities to encourage people to add a stitch.
Communication regarding all the activities has been recorded and shared through social media by Judy Robertson.
Iona French (Graphic Designer) provided the logo – which was designed on the theme of ‘connections’ and people ‘getting together’ around a table – and Wendy Maltman from The Malting House created the website.
The aim of The Dundee Tapestry was to visually narrate stories about the city of Dundee through textiles and stitch. The rich tapestry panels that have been made by over 140 stitchers are full of information and colour, and they reflect the many new friendships that have been forged throughout the making of the Tapestry, and the skills that have developed. We hope you enjoy looking at them.
We have not included everything about Dundee in these 35 panels, and there are many more things we could have included. That’s for the future…!