Two people standing beside a woven tapestry talking.

The Dundee Tapestry: Threading Ideas

The Dundee Tapestry tells over 35 unique stories from the city. We caught up with Andrew Crummy to find out more.

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Andrew Crummy and I’m the designer of The Dundee Tapestry. It is 35 circular designs that reflect certain themes that represent the essence of what Dundee is now, its history and where it is today.

How did your involvement in this project come about?

My involvement came through a friend of mine called Ewan Steele who introduced me to Frances Stevenson at a Degree Show at Duncan of Jordanstone and she said "oh we’re doing a tapestry, would you like to come along to one of our meetings to give us advice?", so I came back to Dundee and met them all and then from there I was involved in the project.

What did the project then look like when you started working on it? What was your role in it?

As I had designed the Great Tapestry of Scotland and other tapestries, I was able to bring my experience of how to put these panels together and also to draw up the communal vision that everyone had for what they wanted and were aspiring to.

How did this differ then from the Great Tapestry of Scotland? Was it quite a different project?

I think it was generally along the same sort of lines where you’re telling an unwritten history and you are trying to tell it through embroidery. So it had the same sort of challenges, although I wanted to design something that did look different from all the other tapestries. They differ in two respects. One is their circular designs, which I think makes them quite distinctive and the secondly this was much more about trying to get the stitchers and people who are living in Dundee or who care about Dundee actually telling their own story as opposed to a historian telling the history of Dundee.

Was there any of those unwritten stories that stand out to you, or maybe some stories that came out as part of this process that were going to be a bit more unknown?
I think there’s a whole series of stories that are really, really interesting. and it could be easily expanded into other panels and I think we've only just really started trying to create these visual narratives about what constitutes Dundee.

Creating tapestries as an art form, where do you think the future of that is? How do you feel that people are still doing it?

I’ve been doing tapestries now for about 14 years. I think there is now a tapestry trail emerging around Scotland, which starts in Galashiels, the great tapestry of Scotland. There’s tapestries I’ve designed right up to Dundee, to Aberdeen, across going to be in Inverness and then down to Renfrewshire.

It’s the amazing skill of these stitchers that make these projects come alive. It’s what the stitchers bring to these projects, it’s just absolutely awesome. Their creativity, their intelligence and also their sense of community and the friendships and the connections that are made.

Some of the stitchers had worked on other tapestries but I think the vast majority of them have either got textile experience of making things or are new to it as well so often you get a lot of people who have never done it before or have got very little experience and they just get carried along by the amazing workshops that we were doing. All these stitchers would come every week, every month and you'd get 30, 40, 50 stitchers in the room and you get this amazing positivity where everybody just wanted to stitch and tell the story of Dundee. To be present at those workshops was just a privilege.

Was there a good mix of ages that were involved in the project?

Primarily, as with all the tapestries, it’s older women who are the backbone of it, but increasingly tapestries are involving younger people and often in more school projects, more teenagers, etc. But older women are the bedrock of these projects and it is their creativity, their intelligence, it is an absolute joy to behold when they get together. All these women working together, it is amazing to watch.

What do you think the legacy of this project will be?
Today is day one of The Dundee Tapestry, this is where it really starts and who knows what’s going to come out of this wonderful time at V&A Dundee, because it’s really fantastic to be here. I think there’ll be so many developments, ideas, what we can do with it, what’s next. It’s a really exciting project. to be involved in, and it’s really exciting that it’s being launched here at V&A Dundee.