Explore the past, present and future of linen

Our Linen Stories organiser, Dr John Ennis surrounded by pieces from the exhibition. Image credit: Colin Hattersley. 

Did you know that linen is one of Scotland’s oldest textile? Delve into this fabric's fascinating history with the next instalment of Our Linen Stories, a travelling exhibition.

Launched in May 2018 in Leith, Edinburgh, Our Linen Stories is an exhibition dedicated to the past, present and future of linen and it is now coming to the Borders as part of a tour of Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Netherlands.

From Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 July, the exhibition will be held in the picturesque settings of The Haining, a 18th-century mansion in Selkirk. The exhibition features designs printed on linen at Clarks in Northern Ireland, based on original artwork by Felicity Bristow, based at Wasps’ St Mary’s Mill studios in Selkirk. These exiting prototypes are the early results of the inaugural £10,000 Gayfield Design Commission.

You will also discover the first UK showing of new artworks by Linda Green, internationally acclaimed textile artist who development is supported by Creative Scotland. Plus, an exclusive first viewing for Scotland of the new Pilgrimage linen interiors range by Duncan Neil - inspired by the sketchbooks from a 19th Scot’s tour of the Holy Land - and of Christien Meindertsma’s Flax Chair, recently chosen as part of the permanent collections of the Vitra Museum and Design Museum London. 

Our Linen Stories brings together new artworks and the latest in product design together with stories, songs, poetry and historical research to highlight what a powerful part Linen plays in the making of Scotland today and how much Linen could contribute to the Scotland of tomorrow. It celebrates the role the cloth and the flax from which it is made, has played in our past, telling the stories of weavers, workers, of migrant skills, trade routes and industrial might.

Central to the exhibition is the contemporary designs by twelve designer/makers using flax in linen to produce everything from textiles and furniture and to sports gear and even skis. This gives visitors the chance to see how this material can help create new business opportunities and contribute to building a sustainable, innovative and high-tech future.

The Our Linen Stories exhibition will also feature an artist talk along with other opportunities for you to get involved in the world of linen. There will be two weekend events, including a maker talk with Hayley McCrirrick about her work with screen printing on linen and a treasure hunt at the Haining on Sunday afternoon. This is free to all and the lucky winner will receive a Selkirk Hamper.

In the past, flax was grown across the Borders and areas such as Melrose were well known for producing linen fabric. It was an integral part of people’s lives and the exhibition organisers are keen to preserve these community memories. They are therefore inviting people to share their knowledge of this industrial heritage and share stories of linen pieces they themselves have owned and loved. Exhibition organiser, Dr John Ennis, is calling on people to bring along their own linen so together they can record and share tales of this unique textile:

“Part of the exhibition is devoted to dining table damask and we would be delighted if Borders folk could lend some examples of damask linen they may have at home”.

Find out how you can get involved with Our Linen Stories here: ourlinenstories.com

Can’t make it? There are plenty of craft exhibitions, workshops and events happening across Scotland this Summer. Visit our What’s On to see more. 

Share this

Veronique  AA Lapeyre
More from this author:

Veronique AA Lapeyre