Nationwide appeal for memorabilia for Scotland's biggest ever celebration of tartan

A nationwide appeal has been issued that could see kilts worn at famous football matches, punk outfits and family picnic blankets go on display in a major exhibition celebrating Scotland's tartan heritage.

Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 2:56 pm

Curators at V&A Dundee want people to rummage through their wardrobes and attics for "everyday tartan objects" to potentially feature in the exhibition, which will coincide with its fifth anniversary next year.

Other suggested exhibits for next year’s V&A Dundee show, Tartan, include ceramics, Christmas decorations, dressing gowns and tartan-lined jackets.

Members of the public are being urged to email details of their own "tartan story" to the waterfront museum, which is planning to stage the biggest ever exhibition devoted to tartan, its connections with Scotland and its worldwide impact.

V&A Dundee will be staging a major celebration of tartan with a new exhibition due to open in April.

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    Opening in April, V&A Dundee’s first major in-house exhibition is billed as “a radical new look at one of the world’s best-known fabrics”.

    It will explore how tartan has become a "global symbol of unity and revolution" that has influenced fashion, film, architecture, design, fine art and performance, and been embraced by the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen, the author Walter Scott, and musical acts like Rod Stewart and the Bay City Rollers.

    Its exhibits are expected to chart the story of Scotland through tartan, and how it has represented “unity, dissent, tradition and rebellion”.

    The exhibition will explore the “sometimes painful” history of tartan, which was famously outlawed in Scotland following the 18th-century Jacobite Risings, but would go on to become a symbol of the British Army and Empire, and embraced by the Royal Family.

    Tartan Army memorabilia could go on display in a new V&A Dundee exhibition next year. Picture: Neil Hanna

    V&A Dundee said it was seeking the help of the public to complete the exhibition by finding tartan objects which express what the pattern and textile means to them.

    Assistant curator Jamie Wylie 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, our ‘Young People’s Collective’ will make a selection of objects to add to the exhibition, with contributors being able to see their very own tartan treasures on display at V&A Dundee next year.”

    V&A Dundee will be celebrating tartan and its links with Scotland in a new exhibition due to open in April. Picture: Jonathan Faiers

    V&A Dundee director Leonie Bell said: "We will be looking at its history of attachment to tourism, tradition and the clans, how it was used across the Empire, how it has been subverted by punks and fashion designers, and how it has endured from quite simple beginnings to be something that is recognised by everybody.

    “It’s really fascinating when you start to get under the skin of it and you realise it’s something that we live with in Scotland all the time, but maybe don’t understand the true story of it and the potency it still has – as a cloth that can be about being radical and rebellious, but also about tradition.

    "It’s really interesting that the Tartan Army can own it at the same time as Vivienne Westwood.”

    V&A Dundee has urged the people of Scotland to rummage through their wardrobes and attics for potential exhibits for a new celebration of tartan it will be staging next year.