Scottish Diaspora Tapestry

The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry Exhibition

Signal Point, Goolwa from 12th to 21st November, 2015

Members of the South Coast Branch were very excited and proud to be at the opening of the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry at Signal Point, Goolwa on Nov 13th 2015. They could view the panels that they had stitched as part of the complete tapestry that is currently on a two-year world tour beginning with the Scottish Homecoming in 2014.
Goolwa staged the first exhibition of the Australasian section of the tour, and it was the first time that the Tour Director, Jenny Bruce, had viewed the tapestry exhibited in its entirety.
The exhibition was viewed by 1700 people over the 11 days.

The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry showcases the talents of hundreds of very creative embroiderers from different cultures around the world. It depicts stories of the migration and influence of Scots and is a celebration of Scottish heritage and culture globally.
Embroiderers from 35 countries have stitched the 305 panels that make up the full tapestry. The panels have been clustered into seven geographic regions (the Baltic, Western Europe, the Americas, Canada, Asia, Australasia and Africa and the British Isles) as well as the Global Panels that represent universal signs of Scottish presence anywhere in the world.


Tour Director, Jenny Bruce from Scotland who is travelling with the exhibition.


South Coast Branch’s two members who made it all happen.
Imm.. Past Secretary, Helen Withers and current President, Estelle Farwell.

Helen Withers, assisted by Marion Oates, initiated and led the participation of the South Coast Branch after Roly Bartlett, a local Goolwa historian, and Leah Grace, Arts and Cultural Coordinator for the Alexandrina Council, spoke at a meeting early in 2014. They were seeking help from local stitchers to work on two panels depicting the early Murray River trade established in Goolwa in the 1850s.

Ten members stitched the two panels, “Captain Cadell” and “Cockenzie Captains”, that tell the story of the beginning and expansion of the Murray River trade when Goolwa became a transport and commercial shipping hub including the building of Australia’s first public railway from Goolwa to Pt Elliott.  One member has personal connections with Randell descendents and was thrilled to actually embroider Captain Randell himself on the panel.


Eight of the ten members involved in the stitching.


Work in progress.

Two other Branch members embroidered on the “Rankine Family of Strathalbyn” panel with members of the Strathalbyn Stitchers. This panel is a tribute to the two Rankine brothers who founded, named and settled in Strathalbyn with their families in 1840.


L-R: Leah Grace, Arts and Cultural Coordinator, Alexandrina Council; Katherine Stanley-Murray, Chief of the Caledonian Society of Strathalbyn; President Estelle; Jenny Bruce and Keith Parkes, Mayor; whom opened the exhibition. 


The two tapestries at the bottom left of the above photo were worked by our members

The stitchers had a very short time line to complete the panels and return them to Scotland. All panels of the tapestry were designed and drawn on white linen by Scottish artist Andrew Crummy, and sent to each group with guidelines and embroidery threads to ensure consistency for the whole tapestry.
Many hearts were in mouths when the tapestry went ‘missing’ for a few days after leaving Paris and was found in London instead of Goolwa. There were also a few tense moments concerning quarantine and customs once it arrived in Australia.
Happily, the opening of the exhibition by the Mayor of Alexandrina Council, Keith Parkes, was a wonderful event. Alexandrina Council was host and sponsor for this section of the Australasian tour.

Thanks to  Margaret Kitto for this report.

The exhibition viewed by over 1700 person in the 11 day duration of the exhibition.


The South Coast Tapestry - 'Glimpses of the Past'

displayed at the Diaspora exhibition


In 2012 the South Coast Branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild was awarded the prestigious Peg Saddler Award. The biennial award is for an embroidery which is original in its concept and design. The tapestry was inspired, stitched and constructed in the manner of the famous Bayeux Tapestry in keeping with the medieval theme for the Guild’s 2012 Exhibition
‘A Bouquet of Medieval Stitches’. It depicts an historical glimpse from Goolwa to Victor Harbor in the 1850s and 1860s.


The concept, planning and design were the inspiration of our late member, Pam Walter, with 18 members participating in the project. The tapestry now hangs at the Alexandrina Council on permanent display.

The group decided to use the award to help fund a Colour and Design Workshop for members and this was held on the weekend of September 21 & 22, 2013 with 11 members participating. The choice of Tutor was former South Coast member Carol Mullan. Carol’s presentation was ‘par excellence’ covering an enormous range of helpful topics and giving advice to students on proposed projects.

The late Pam Water with Past Mayor of Alexandrina Council at the unveiling of our tapestry in 2012