Marking the opening of the new building for The National Museum of Scotland in 1998, Dovecot Studios were commissioned to create a new tapestry.
Scottish artist Kate Whiteford was selected to collaborate with Dovecot weavers to create a large-scale work for the Museum entrance hall. Whiteford looked to the Museum collection to inform the tapestry design, and was taken by recurring archaeological images such as early carved stones and tree runes from Maes Howe in Orkney. She also took inspiration from the Corryvrechan whirlpool off the island of Jura.
Traditionally tapestries are woven on their side, so a new loom with rollers to accommodate the 8-metre length of the work was built especially for this tapestry. The loom design was based on the 17th century French loom at Dovecot.
Whiteford described the process of working with Dovecot weavers as akin to working with a master printer. Trusting a weaver's judgement and integrity to transform a design to tapestry was key to creating this work. The completed tapestry is a harmonious blend of colour and form, highlighting the strength of the design and the talent of Dovecot weavers.
The tapestry is on display in Hawthornden Court, in the Scotland galleries at the National Museum of Scotland.
Kate Whiteford and Dovecot Studios, Corryvrechan, 1997, National Museums of Scotland. Image: Neil McLean