V&A Dundee

The People’s Tartan needs you!

V&A Dundee is launching a national appeal today (Tuesday 26 July) for everyday tartan objects to be featured in a major exhibition which opens next year.

Tartan (1 April 2023 to 14 January 2024) will be a radical new look at one of the world’s best-known textiles, celebrating the global story of a unique pattern that expresses tradition, revolt and diversity, inspires playful and provocative design, and connects communities worldwide. It will be the first major exhibition on the textile in living memory.

The exhibition curators now need the public’s help to complete the exhibition, by looking through their wardrobes and attics to find tartan objects which express what this pattern and textile means to them.

These items could be a tartan picnic blanket that has travelled the world, punk clothing from the 1970s, or a kilt worn as a seasoned member of the Tartan Army journeying to Scotland football matches. Other objects of interest include tartan ceramics, Christmas decorations, homewares, or clothing such as a dressing gown or a tartan-lined jacket.

Everyone is invited to email: tartanproject@vandadundee.org to share their tartan story. A selection of objects will then be chosen to feature in the exhibition.

James Wylie, Assistant Curator, at V&A Dundee, said: “Tartan is an incredible pattern and textile that has travelled the world. We think it’s arguably the world’s most instantly recognisable textile and it has a close relationship to so many people’s identities, from the explosion of punk in the late 1970s to the prideful Tartan Army on tour, as well as contemporary expressions of queer identities.

“We are hugely excited to see what people have in their homes, and to hear stories of all the different things tartan means to people.

“From all the submissions we receive, the museum’s Young People’s Collective will make a selection of objects to add to the Tartan exhibition, with contributors being able to see their very own tartan treasures on display at V&A Dundee next year.”

Tartan has a complex, rich, and at times painful history unequalled by any other cloth or pattern. It is a textile that is adored and derided, inspiring great works of art and design, and together represents conflicting meanings in unity and dissent, tradition and rebellion.

While originating in textile traditions, tartan has also been an inspiration for, and incorporated into, art and design cultures including architecture, product design, fashion, film, fine art, and performance. Tartan has become a global symbol of unity and revolution, and the exhibition will explore the incredible impact that the textile has had on fashion and design around the world up to the present day.

This is the first major exhibition curated by V&A Dundee, with consultant curator Jonathan Faiers of the University of Southampton, UK.