“It’s so, so much more than I thought”

The Great Tapestry of Scotland opened to the public for the first time today in its new purpose-built building in Galashiels.

By Kevin Janiak
Thursday, 26th August 2021, 3:53 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th August 2021, 3:53 pm
Janice Lees was the first customer to get a chance to view the tapestry in its new home. Photo: Phil Wilkinson.

And first through the door was Galashiels resident and owner of The Canny Coo arts and crafts shop, Janice Lees.

After her visit, she said: “It is so, so much more than I thought it was going to be.

"There is something here for everyone of all ages.

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Some of the first visitors to the new attraction, Michael Huitson and daughter Audrey , travelled from Cheshire to take a close look at the tapestry in its new home. Photo: Phil Wilkinson.

"The sewing, the history, the culture, the building … I hope to come back many, many more times.”

The latest addition to Scotland’s national cultural scene was welcomed by Outlander star and Borderer, Sam Heughan, who has contributed a photo, a quote, a bottle of the Sassenach Whisky and a signed copy of his Clanlands book to the opening Iconic Scotland exhibit in the centre’s Gallery 1420.

He tweeted: “Please check out the wonderful Great Tapestry of Scotland – honoured to feature alongside so many great Scottish personalities that have influenced Scotland. It’s a country and culture I’m proud of and continue to promote in everything I do.”

The brainchild of Alexander McCall Smith and designed by artist Andrew Crummy, the tapestry is one of the world’s largest community arts projects, hand-stitched by a team of 1,000 sewers from across Scotland led by Dorie Wilkie.

Some of the first customers to visit and view the tapestry in its new home. Photo: Phil Wilkinson.

The design of the panels is based on a narrative written by Borders-based writer and historian Alistair Moffat.

Speaking about the centre’s opening, Alexander McCall Smith said: “The opening of this wonderful gallery marks the end of a long period of hard work by all of those who have created this astonishing tapestry and its permanent home.

"But it also marks the beginning of the public life of one of the great artistic creations of our time.”

It’s hoped the opening will help revitalise the town and the Borders as a whole.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland building opened to excited customers who were among the first to get a look at the tapestry in its new home. Photo: Phil Wilkinson.

VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “The opening of The Great Tapestry of Scotland is a fantastic addition to the region’s tourism offering.

"This unique and exciting new story-telling attraction will celebrate the history of our country and, as we look towards the Year of Stories 2022, will play a significant role in supporting Scotland’s economic recovery, helping to grow the region’s tourism offering, creating new jobs and attracting visitors to the south of Scotland.

“Tourism is a force for good – creating economic and social value in every corner of Scotland and enhancing the wellbeing of everyone who experiences it.

"With the right support, tourism and events can lead the economic recovery and boost inward investment where it is needed most.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland building opened today to excited customers. Photo: Phil Wilkinson.

"We will continue to work with, and support, businesses to ensure we rebuild this vital part of Scotland’s economy.”

To help deliver a safe visitor experience, those planning on visiting are advised to book ahead at www.greattapestryofscotland.com, where full opening times can be found along with details of Covid-19 measures in place.

If spaces are still available on the day, tickets can also be purchased at the door.

To book tickets, or for more information visit greattapestryofscotland.com or follow @GreatTapestrySc on Facebook or Twitter, and @GreatTapestryScotland on Instagram.