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21st Century tapestry meets the medieval

7 February 2011

More than 50 beautiful small-scale modern tapestries have gone on display at Stirling Castle.

The exhibition, called Warp/Weft: Near/Far will illustrate the wide range of approaches to the medium as practiced by tapestry artists in the UK and across Europe, to give a flavour of the contemporary context of woven tapestry.

This is a great opportunity to contrast some superb examples of today’s tapestry-making along side the Renaissance Project on site.

The display of work, from across the UK and Europe, takes place in the Nether Bailey, close to the workshop where weavers are creating new versions of The Hunt of the Unicorn series which dates from the start of the 16th century.

Four of the series of seven are complete and hang in the Chapel Royal, but will soon be transferred to the castle’s royal palace which is being returned to how it may have looked in the 1540s, and will open in June.

The modern works are all small-scale, measuring up to 80cm in height, while the new versions of the Renaissance works were designed as wall coverings and can be up to 3.8m tall.

Louise Martin, one of the exhibition organisers and also the senior weaver in the castle workshop, said: “This is a wonderful chance to see how tapestry weaving has developed and evolved over the centuries.

“The contemporary works in the exhibition come from some of the finest weavers in UK and Europe.

“Each is unique, many have abstract designs, some are very subtle while others are extremely vibrant.

“But despite the differences to Renaissance works, they are all still wool-based and use the same warp and weft technique, so there is a great sense of continuity.”

Something which has changed greatly is the cost.

The exhibition tapestries are all on sale and, despite being a very highly-skilled and time-consuming art form, cost between £100 and £3,000.

In the 16th century a series like The Hunt of the Unicorn, cost the same as an entire warship.

Warp/Weft: Near/Far takes place from Saturday 5, February to Sunday 3, April and is included in the standard entry price to the castle.

The artists are committee members of the British Tapestry Group, the European Tapestry Forum steering group, and members of WEST, a group of professional tapestry weavers from the West Country.
Miss Martin will be running three special tapestry weekends while the exhibition is on.

  • Problem Solving: 12 & 13, February. For people with some experience of weaving who are in need of expert guidance on how to progress. £100 or £84 for Historic Scotland members.
  • Working with Different Materials: 19 & 20, February. Ideal for beginners and those with some experience, the workshop explores the use of conventional and unconventional materials and different methods of construction. £110 or £96 for Historic Scotland members.
  • Coptic Techniques: 2 & 3, April. Suits those with some experience – a weekend during which participants will create a Coptic-inspired tapestry. £120 or £96 for Historic Scotland members.

Further information:

Notes for editors:

  • The latest exhibition builds on the success of a smaller one which was staged at the castle in 2009.
  • Places on the workshops should be booked in advance by contacting Louise on 01259 762487 or at
  • For all the latest on the palace project, and everything else that happening at Stirling Castle, visit our website at and sign up for our free e-newsletter.
  • Stirling Castle is at the top of Stirling Old Town off the M9 at junction 9 or 10. Call 01786 450000
  • Historic Scotland has 345 historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For further details visit:  
  • Historic Scotland’s Mission is to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.
  • Historic Scotland around the web:, – search for Make Your Own History, and

For further information

Matthew Shelley
0131 668 8734