Several weeks ago, we started exploring embroidered stories – tapestry projects that, in some way, tell stories that are significant in some way. Most of these tapestry projects are community efforts, embroidered by volunteers.
First, we saw the Prestonpans Tapestry, and then we looked at tapestries, embroideries, and textile art relating to World Wars I & II.
For your perusal and further exploration, here’s a group of tapestry projects that I call “heritage tapestries.” For the most part, they have to do with the settlement and development of communities, or the cultural, artistic, religious, or historical heritage of the communities or individuals involved in making them.
Some of the tapestry projects may be familiar to you; hopefully, you’ll find some new gems among them to explore further on your own! And maybe, just maybe, you’ll find out that there’s a tapestry near you – or in the vicinity of some future travels – that you can see in person!
So, here’s a list and descriptions of various heritage tapestries around the globe. They’re in no particular order. Hope you enjoy them!
Scottish Diaspora Tapestry
The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry is rather popular these days – you may very well have seen parts of it on needlework blogs from around the world!
The panels represent connections between the community or individuals that stitched them and their Scottish heritage.
The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry has one of the most complete websites devoted to the development of a tapestry, and it’s quite fascinating to explore! Visit The Tapestry section, to view the individual panels.
The Great Tapestry of Scotland
It’s true, the Scottish seem to excel at this whole tapestry thing!
The Great Tapestry of Scotland is another project with a great website for further exploration.
The French Shore Tapestry
The French Shore Tapestry hails from Newfoundland in Canada. It relates the story of the history of the French Shore of Newfoundland, from prehistoric times to the beginning of the tapestry in 2006.
The style of this tapestry is very much Bayeux-influenced, and the panels are vivid and delightful! You can view some of the panels here – just scroll through with the arrows.
The Quaker Tapestry
Began in the 1980’s and finished in 1996, the The Quaker Tapestry is a modern tapestry masterpiece! The details, the stitchery, the colors, the story-telling – it’s quite a fascinating piece.
If you explore the website, you’ll find that the tapestry has ignited its own little embroidery education industry, replete with workshops in narrative embroidery, children’s activities, and a shop where you can purchase books, kits, and the like relating to the Quaker Tapestry.
The Guernsey Tapestry
The Bailiwick of Guernsey Tapestry is made up of ten panels of canvas work, and it tells the story of a thousand years of the local history of this Channel Island.
If you like maritime scenes, you’ll love this tapestry! The stitchery is fantastic, and the various representations of the surrounding sea are lovely.
The Palestinian History Tapestry Project
The Palestinian History Tapestry Project is a non-profit endeavor aimed to support Palestinian women. It’s underway at the moment, so it isn’t a complete tapestry, but it tells a story, too.
The Keiskamma History Tapestry
Somewhat related (as a precursor) to the Palestinian History Tapestry, the Keiskamma History Tapestry accomplished in South Africa what the Palestinian History Tapestry project hopes to accomplish in Palestine – that is, it brought together people, it helped the impoverished, and it tells the engrossing story of the region.
On the main tapestry page, you can view wonderful, large images of the tapestry, and there’s a link at the end of the page to a dropbox file, to view more images.
Plymouth Congregational Church Summer of the First Amendment Tapestry
I wasn’t able to find a lot on the Summer of the First Amendment Tapestry, which is located in Minneapolis at the Plymouth Congregational Church, but the webpage devoted to the Needlers in the community has some great photos of the projects, so that you can see the huge scope of this one embroidered panel. It’s Big!
The New World Tapestry
The New World Tapestry, which is a little more “cartoonish” in style – very colorful, very (very!) extensive, tells the story of English colonization in North America, Newfoundland, Guiana, and Bermuda. The tapestry was begun in 1980, and it took 20 years and the work of 256 stitchers to complete it.
You can read the history behind the tapestry here. To view the panels, there are links at the top of the website, to take you to different historical eras depicted in the tapestry.
The Fort Vancouver Tapestry
The Fort Vancouver Tapestry focuses on the heritage of Northwest America, especially in Southwest Washington, around the Columbia River basin.
On the website, you’ll find information on the tapestry and its purpose, a terrific slideshow of the whole tapestry, so that you can view it as it scrolls by, and links to view and read about the individual panels.
The Bristol Berkeley Plantation Tapestry
The Bristol Berkeley Plantation Tapestry is a project underway. I’m not sure what the status is on it, but the story it tells is the connection between Berkeley Plantation in Virginia and the district of Berkeley in Gloucestershire in the UK.
You can read the history behind the tapestry here, and see the basic layout of it. You can also zoom in on a couple of the tapestry scenes by hovering over the colored pictures on that page.
Fort Anne Heritage Tapestry
The tapestry colorfully relates the history of Annapolis Royal and the Annapolis basin in southwestern Nova Scotia. When I visited Nova Scotia several summers ago, I had no idea about the tapestry. It’s a good excuse to go back to a gorgeous area of Canada!
There aren’t a lot of photos on the website of the tapestry, if you google Fort Anne Heritage Tapestry, you can find some good images of it. Notable Travels (a travel blog) has a good article about a visit to Annapolis Royal and a nice picture of the tapestry.
And speaking of Annapolis, in the Historic Annapolis Museum in downtown Annapolis, Maryland, you can find the first panels and information on the Annapolis Tapestries.
The Annapolis Tapestries were inspired by the tapestries at Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia, and they intend to tell the rich history of Annapolis, Maryland. The Annapolis Tapestries project begin in 2006, and I don’t know if it’s completed or not. The website seems to have stagnated in 2012.
There are some nice photo galleries on the website, though, and with a little exploration online, you can find some photos of finished panels.
EGA National Tapestry
The EGA National Tapestry is not so much a “story” tapestry – it celebrates the natural beauty of the US – but it’s definitely worth mentioning!
The EGA National Tapestry (America the Beautiful) is made up of five painted and then embroidered mono-canvas panels that depict America, from sea to shining sea, and her flora and fauna.
You can view the individual tapestry panels at the EGA National Headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, and you can also check for a schedule of exhibits around the country – it occasionally circulate from region to region.
In the meantime, though, you can view close-ups of highlights from each panel on the EGA website, by accessing the panel menu on the right side of the page.
Start Your Own!
I hope you enjoy perusing the links in this chapter of Embroidered Stories. Maybe you’ll be inspired to start a heritage tapestry in your own community?
Now, wouldn’t that be something?!?