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Manitoba's Tapestry Limestone as magnificent backdrop to the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry

Tyndall stone, quarried at Garston 50km northeast of Winnipeg and shipped from Tyndall the nearest railhead ..

This extraordinary distinctive mottled stone was first quarried at Garston in 1896 and quickly earned the nick name 'tapestry stone' from the presence of thousands of fossils visible within it. Here's an example:

It was in this setting, designed by Liverpudlian Frank Worthington Simon, where this stone is used in the Manitoba Legislature [The Leg pronounced Ledge!], that the Winnipeg Tapestry Exhibition is being held until July 3rd. It's also the first time the exhibition has been in such a building although the next UK Exhibition scheduled in partnership with stitchers from the Crown Court Church - over Easter 2017 at Westminster Hall - will follow the pattern! [And in Winnipeg for Big Ben read The Golden Boy*.]

The Opening was chaired by the 111th President of the Manitoba St Andrew's Society, Rev. Dr Jim Christie, attended by Manitoba Parliamentarians from the Office of Culture and of course, Heroes of the Hour, the stitchers of the seven Winnipeg Panels led by Lorraine Iverach. There were speeches, a Celtic harp and flute, Scottish dancing and a great deal of viewing of the tapestry panels

Australia Came Calling ..ViaRail Stopover

An extremely surprising visitor on June 18th was Marie Laurie, who stitched panel AU 25 in partnership with her daughter Jo Fort and friends. She saw the exhibition in home town Sydney at Eastertide and was travelling across Canada by train from Toronto to Vancouver, with a short stop at Winnipeg! She jumped train for just an hour with a friend and made her way to be pictured [right] in front of her panel here below.

The most frequent questions were ...

Why is the entire tapestry here? Surely we could just have seen the Canadian panels?

Well that was certainly a possibility but the team in Scotland had felt it was right and proper to let each group of stitchers see their own stories in the global context, the extraordinary tale of Scottish emigration and achievements across a millennium. But for that to be possible each group had to accept responsibility for arranging their own exhibition and taking proper care of it all before passing it on to the next community - a veritable global relay.

Where will the permanent home be and what future do we see for the tapestry in general

Certainly the ambition is have a permanent home in Prestonpans, probably in partnership with the original 104m Prestonpans Tapestry telling the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie's Victory in 1745. But in that home it is currently planned to offer segmented exhibitions along the lines already presented on the free APP available from Apple and Android. The APP inter alia sorts the tales told in the panels by e.g. religion, exploration, botany, or politics.

Many thousands of visitors can be expected every year not only from embroiderers drawn to the beautiful artwork but to be fascinated by the history recounted.

Most importantly it is expected the tapestry will become a powerful educational vehicle for Scotland today, educating our young people particularly in what their ancestors achieved around the globe, marvelling at their accomplishments and gaining inspiration themselves to build successful lives.

Although there's no Golden Boy* atop the Town Hall in Prestonpans as there is in Winnipeg, there are myriad examples in the tapestry panels of what can be done when needs must and opportunity beckons.

* The Golden Boy looks north from the dome of the Provincial Legislature where its creators at the beginning of the 20th century believed opportunity indeed beckoned In Manitoba.

Published Date: June 14th 2016

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