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Welcome donation of Tweed to tapestry project

A generous donation of Harris Tweed to the team behind a tapestry that will capture the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands has been welcomed.

The tapestry is being created as part of the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project, a partnership project between The Highland Council and High Life Highland, which will be delivered in collaboration with VisitScotland.

Newly appointed stitch coordinator, Kirstie Campbell, contacted the team at Harris Tweed Hebrides who were more than happy to contribute to the project and donated a box full of colourful tweeds and fabrics.

Kirstie said: “The Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands team have been developing plans to include various materials in the design of panels including natural yarn and tweeds to give this tapestry a distinct look and feel.

“We’ve been in conversation with mills around the Highlands and Islands including Harris Tweed Hebrides. I couldn’t believe it when the parcel arrived, with such a generous contribution to the project.

“We’re absolutely delighted to receive this donation and for the opportunity to work with such rich colours and fabric within what is a major community arts project for the Highlands and Islands.”

Harris Tweed Hebrides was founded in 2007 and after taking over a derelict mill at Shawbost, it now employs around 250 millworkers and weavers in Lewis and Harris.

As the main producer of Harris Tweed, the company exports to over 50 countries worldwide and customers have included designers Alexander McQueen, J. Crew, Celine, and Vivienne Westwood.

Harris Tweed Hebrides Chief Executive, Ian Angus Mackenzie, said: “It is gratifying to know that our contribution was so genuinely appreciated, and that Harris Tweed will feature in the Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands.

“As a vibrant 21st century industry, steeped in tradition and close to our natural environment, we believe that Harris Tweed embodies much that is best in the spirit of the Highlands and Islands.”

The tapestry team recently issued a call for volunteer stitchers and were overwhelmed with the response – with over 500 people looking to take part.

The tapestry will be designed by artist Andrew Crummy – designer of The Prestonpans Tapestry, The Great Tapestry of Scotland, The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry and many others.

Historian Alistair Moffat will curate the content, drawing inspiration from stories submitted by local communities and using his vast knowledge of Scottish history and culture.

Each panel will be allocated to a voluntary stitching group. These groups may vary in size from just a couple of people to a dozen or more.

Panels will be stitched in homes and cultural hubs across the Highlands and Islands.

Stitching is expected to start shortly, and all sewing complete by early 2023, at which point a team will prepare them for exhibition.

The panels will then be exhibited within the newly transformed Inverness Castle and at venues right across the Highlands and Islands.

The Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project will encourage visitors to explore and experience the more remote and rural parts of the Highlands and Islands, as well as inspiring them to attend and support festivals and events, workshops, visitor attractions and outdoor locations.

The project’s aim is to help grow capacity in these areas by encouraging visitors to holiday in the ‘shoulder months’ outwith the typical holiday season and to visit locations with growth potential.

It will enhance the Highlands and Islands’ reputation as a place of outstanding natural and cultural beauty with a landscape and biodiversity to engage with and enjoy responsibly, to the domestic and international market.

It will also engage visitors by demonstrating how the Highlands and Islands are unique, authentic, and easily accessible, including for active pursuits.

It is supported by a grant from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund (NCHF) led by NatureScot and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The Inverness Castle project will benefit from £30m investment to support its re-development from the Scottish and UK Governments, The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and a range of other partners.

The Inverness Castle project is part of the Inverness and Highland City Region deal, which is a joint initiative supported by up to £315m investment from the UK and Scottish governments, The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and University of the Highlands and Islands, aimed at stimulating sustainable regional economic growth.’