Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 2, 2008

Tying up the trip with tapestry

Our last day on the tour was a short drive from Ft. William (where, the day before, we were treated to the rare privelege of seeing Ben Nevis, Britian’s tallest mountain, in full glory without its usual cloud cover) to Glasgow. We traveled via Glencoe and Loch Lomond, two lovely spots worth exploring on another visit. Our final visit was to Glasgow’s Pollak Country Park, home of the Pollak House, the Burrell Collection, and a small herd of Highland cattle. The cattle are appealing with their shaggy fur. I didn’t go into the Pollak House because in the short time available I was mesmerized by the formal garden there. I’ve only started gardening with ornamentals recently, but this garden gave me a stunning insight as to why people like the traditional formal garden. My photos, when I get home and get them posted, will hopefully give you a sense of the place.

But, our primary reason for being at the park was to see the Burrell Collection, a very large collection of art from around the world, including tapestries. We were given a special tour by Helen Hughes, Conservator. We were shown the workrooms used by the conservators to repair tapestries that are hundreds of years old. The handwork on these tapestries is incredibly detailed and it is simply difficult to believe the amount of labor and artistry that went into designing some of these tapestries. The larger tapestries looked 15 feet high and 20 feet wide. I enjoyed browsing other parts of the collection, too, including cooking and dining utensils, paintings, medieval armor, and ceramics from around the world. After starting our tour with the Stirling Castle tapestry reproductions and visiting two contempoary tapestry artists, it was nice to come full circle back to tapestry and see the beauty of these old tapestries and the care taken to restore them.

After settling into our hotel, our tour ended with a delicious Indian dinner. Farewells were made all-around as people finalized plans to fly out. Most were leaving the next morning, some very early, and I planned to stay a few extra days. Nadine, illustrating the level of energy she put into organizing and running the trip, said goodbye at the restaurant, catching an evening flight out to Barcelona and further adventures on her own. It was a good trip, a good group of travelers and I come away with a good overview of Scotland’s geography, people and importance in weaving, past and present.

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