Exhibition tapestry puts Midlothian on the map

Iain Duffus with Lisa Mason on the left and Kate Grenyer on the right.
Iain Duffus with Lisa Mason on the left and Kate Grenyer on the right.

Libraries staff turned into sleuths when they helped the curator of the National Museums of Scotland track down a tapestry for an exhibition.

Curator Lisa Mason contacted the council during her search for the work, ‘Midlothian County Map’ by Roslin-born artist and weaver, Archie Brennan.

The artist and weaver was born in 1931 and joined Dovecot Studios in 1948.

She said: “I got in touch as we’ve been trying to establish the whereabouts of this tapestry, which was designed by Archie Brennan and woven at the Dovecot Studios in 1969.

“I was looking for it as I am currently working on a collaborative research project with the Dovecot Studios to examine the work and legacy of Archie Brennan.

“This will culminate in a full retrospective exhibition of his work, provisionally scheduled for roughly around 2020, and we wanted the tapestry to be part of this.“

Lisa and her colleague Kate Grenyer of the Dovecot Studios were delighted when the library team easily found it hanging on the wall at the entrance to Dalkeith Arts Studio. They visited recently to take pictures and have a look.

Lisa said: “It’s really exciting to see it there and in such good condition. The Midlothian County Map is the first in a series so it’s a really important piece.”

Brennan trained at the Dovecot and Edinburgh College of Art, where he established the first tapestry department.

He went on to become artistic director of the Dovecot Studios, chairman of the British Crafts Centre, and was awarded an OBE in 1981. Brennan’s work in tapestry and teaching has taken him all over the world and he now lives in New York state.

Team leader at Dalkeith Library Iain Duffus said: “The tapestry has been hanging in the corridor, probably for quite a number of years now.

“It’s exciting to think that we’ll hopefully be sharing it temporarily with hundreds of people from across Scotland and beyond who will come to the retrospective exhibition.”

Lisa plans to now make formal arrangement to secure a loan on the tapestry for the exhibition.