Stitching their place in history
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This article was published 27/06/2016 (2460 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A number of Winnipeggers have played their part in the creation of a historic tapestry.
The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry is currently on tour from Scotland and will be on display on the main floor at the legislative building daily until July 3 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free.
The project began in 2012 when representatives of the Prestoungrange Arts Festival in Prestonpans, Scotland reached out to communities around the world with an interest in helping celebrate Scottish history and culture globally. One of the meanings of the word ‘diaspora’ is a relocation of a group of people from their homeland. The project’s team leader is Dr. Gordon Prestoungrange MBE, Baron of Prestoungrange.
Lorraine Iverach, a key organizer and the volunteer co-ordinator in Winnipeg, said the tapestry consists of 305 panels representing 34 countries, including Canada. Each panel was designed by Scottish graphic artist Andrew Crummy, based on historical input from each participating region. After the panels were embroidered, they were sent back to Scotland, where they were cleaned, stretched and prepared for exhibition.
Seven panels are from Manitoba, and were stitched by 27 volunteers, many of whom are members of the Winnipeg Embroiderers’ Guild, which meets at St. Mary’s Road United Church (613 St. Mary’s Rd.).
“We’re absolutely thrilled to be part of this, as it’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” Iverach, 64, said.
“As well as participating in the project, it’s wonderful to see all 305 panels in person. When they are back in Prestonpans, they will be used as an educational tool.”
Iverach, who lives in St. Vital and is a retired teacher, said the panels are deliberately not stitched together, like the Bayeux Tapestry, to provide greater flexibility.
“If it was all stitched together, it would be one of the longest tapestries in the world,” Iverach said, noting it took at least 200 hours to stitch each panel.
In terms of the role of the guild, Iverach said it is to promote art and the love of stitchery in the community. Members come from across the city and are interested in all aspects of the needle arts, including cross-stitch, blackwork, Florentine, hardanger, goldwork embroidery, crewel, and Battenberg lace, to name a few.
Members meet at the church on the first Thursday of each month between September (they will meet on Sept. 8 this year due to the timing of the Labour Day long weekend) and June at 7 p.m. Iverach said the guild is always happy to welcome new members, and prospective members are invited to attend one of the upcoming meetings as a guest.
“The guild members and volunteers have been a tremendous support to me personally, and throughout the entire tapestry project,” Iverach said.
The display in Winnipeg has been sponsored by four main groups: the Scottish Heritage Council of Manitoba, the St. Andrew’s Society of Winnipeg, the Bicentenary of the Red River Selkirk Settlement Committee, and the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (Winnipeg Branch).
Aside from the guild, the 27 stitchers who completed the seven tapestry panels in Manitoba belong to the following organizations: members of the congregation of St. John’s Anglican Cathedral, members of the congregation of St. Peter Dynevor Anglican Church, the Lord Selkirk Association of Rupert’s Land, the Manitoba Highland Dancers Association, the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (Winnipeg Branch), and the Lord Selkirk Robert Fraser Memorial (RFM) Pipe Band.
Go online at www.winnipegembroiderersguild.ca to learn more about the guild. Visit www.scottishdiasporatapestry.org for more information about the project.
Simon Fuller is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. Email him at email@example.com or call him at 204-697-7111.