Dundee Tapestry Project

The Dundee Tapestry: Weaving Stories

We caught up with John Fyffe MBE, of the Weaver Incorporation of Dundee, to learn more about The Dundee Tapestry project. From bringing the idea to life, gathering over 140 volunteer stitchers to all 35 finished panels being on display here in the museum.

Can you introduce yourself and tell us about this project?

Yes, my name is John Fyffe and I’m the Deacon of the Weaver Incorporation of Dundee.

The Dundee Tapestry is a fantastic community-based project that’s involved 140 stitchers over a couple of years to put together a part of social history of Dundee. It’s Dundee through the eyes of Dundonians and that’s what makes the connection between the people and the tapestries.

How long have you been involved in this project and how did the process begin?

I’ve been involved for five years. It all started when I was on holiday in Belfast and I saw the Game of Thrones tapestry, I was Deacon of the Weaver Incorporation of Dundee at the time and my wife said this is what Dundee needs.

I went home and started having a series of conversations but my first port of call was with Dr Frances Stevenson at Duncan of Jordanstone and it’s from there the whole project developed.

Can you tell us about the different stitchers involved with in the project?

It all started off by word of mouth and then we put a small social media campaign together and stitchers started to phone up and ask to get involved. Once we got a few teams together, the word spread out and we ended up with about 150 stitchers and we used 140. We even had six stitchers from as far as the Isle of Mull!

We then had a workshop once a month at one of the community centres in Dundee and the stitchers brought their panels along, they shared their ideas and learnt from one another and I learnt from them as well. It was a really inclusive approach to delivering this tapestry.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the tapestries and how you decided on the themes?

We had several roundtable discussions, with content coming in from the city archivists, the stitchers themselves and other colleagues that were involved. There’s eight themes from Dundee industry, communities, nature, international, education, sporting, cultural and creative. We thought they were good groupings to pull together what Dundee is about. A good example would be the music panel, we thought, right, do we include the bands that have played in Dundee or just design the panel based around Dundee musicians? And we decided on the latter.

Is there a panel that you think best fits Dundee the best? There's so much variety!

There’s some gems that have come through, like the only football player in the world that’s won a Hollywood Oscar, played for Dundee United, he’s on a panel. A man that won the US Open Championship at golf 100 years ago, Willie Smith, just beyond Dundee. Jimmy McDonald, who was the voice of Mickey Mouse for 35 years. born in Dundee, I could go on. There’s something for every age and for every person.

What do you see the legacy of this project being? Is there any plans for where this will go?

I think there’s a strong educational legacy, I’d like to see the panels used as a context for learning local history in our schools. I think there’s a possibility that can happen. I also think some of it could be digitised, so it’s more accessible for anybody and everybody.

What has it been like seeing them all displayed here in the museum?

Oh, wow it's just superb. It's been five years in the making but we’ve delivered, and that’s really good.

This free display is on now until Sunday 28 April 2024. Find out more here.

Here's a preview of some of the 35 panels which are on display below: