In Scotland’s past, tartans originally had neither names nor symbolic meaning, but over a period of time – and particularly after the early 19th century – these colourful woven patterns came to be used as signifiers for particular families or groups of families. The numbers of such patterns also grew, to the extent that now there are thousands, worn by all sorts of different groupings as well as simply by those who love the history, tradition and colour of our national cloth.
Tartan expresses our diversity but it can also express our unity and our place in the world. Moreover the prospect of independence and a new future demands that we should act as one in the best interests of our extended clan – the people who live in Scotland , or who claim relation to us across the world.
For that reason, I have taken pieces of tartan and handstitched then woven them together in an entirely random way to symbolise the uniting of all Scots, first of all in the wish that they will vote as one for independence in the 2014 referendum, regardless of party political allegiance.
In an Independent Scotland, we can create a new landscape of purposeful unity built on our colourful diversity that will be truly representative of the core values of all Scots.
Like every Scot, each of these works is unique, with the permutations of the tartans used being peculiar to every individual piece.
A friend of mine, the late author and journalist Mary Beith, wrote a wonderful book about traditional Highland folk remedies entitled “Healing Threads”.
That is how I would like to see this project – the unifying of healing threads in each piece which, when woven together, heal our old divisions and encourage our new, productive, unity and strength.