In the 1970s, artist-weaver Fiona Mathison was commissioned by the Scottish Arts Council to make this large-scale tapestry. Inverness Museum & Art Gallery was chosen as the host venue, so the tapestry was designed to hang in the museum’s stairwell. For thirty years it was displayed there, until the museum underwent a major refurbishment in 2007.
The museum also has a selection of small design samples. These are small tapestries made to help the artist work out composition, weaves and colours – in the same way a painter makes preparatory sketches before working on a large canvas.
The tapestry shows three grey figures and a host of colourful flying insects. The central figure has a rural background on the left, where the insects can fly free. But there is an urban background on the right which confines the insects to the figure.
The tapestry and the samples were on loan from the Scottish Arts Council from 1977 until 1996 when they were kindly donated to the museum’s permanent collection.
Fiona Mathison is a highly respected contemporary textile artist. She trained at Edinburgh College of Art, where she went on to teach tapestry up until her retirement in 2010. She is still based in Edinburgh but exhibits worldwide.
This large tapestry, along with the design samples, will be on display in the museum’s foyer gallery until 3 June 2023.
Accession number: INVMG.1977.129.001-007 Donated by the Scottish Arts Council, 1996