Pupils’ Colourful Creations Celebrate Langholm’s Textile Heritage

A window exhibition is about to take place of colourful aprons and cushions created by Langholm schoolchildren to celebrate the town’s heritage as a centre for textiles.

The display is the result of a project run by Upland CIC that saw Kirkcudbright-based international designer and artist Morag Macpherson work with pupils from Langholm Academy and Langholm Primary School.

The three aprons, which have echoes of the workwear once worn by millworkers, and the cushions, are patchworks of linen and tweed.

The linen patches have each been printed with designs by the children.

These were inspired by visits to Elliot’s Shed where l weaver and designer Lynn Elliot inspired the students with his traditional mechanical pedal looms.

All the pieces will be on show in the window of 42-44 Langholm High Street, from this Friday until 29 November.

Morag said: “The children were fantastic to work with. I was blown away by their imagination, their creativity and their openness to new ways of working.
“The designs are really striking, bold and colourful so I hope that people will enjoy seeing the exhibition.
“Everyone involved – the schools, teachers, local businesses and organisations – have been so positive and helpful and have shown a real pride in their town and its heritage.”

The work is part of Making Connections, a wider project being run by Dumfries & Galloway arts development agency Upland CIC, which is enabling artists and makers to explore Langholm’s textile history in a variety of ways.

According to Langholm Academy art and design teacher Adam German, his S2 students, and the P6 primary pupils benefited a great deal from the project.

He said: “It was a great opportunity for the pupils to work with a professional designer and learn about her process. They learned a lot about how to develop a source of inspiration to create a surface print.
“It’s also been very rewarding for the pupils because they are learning about the history of the town, and it has personal resonance for many of them as their grandparents and even parents worked in the textile industry.
“We think that the community will enjoy having the chance to see work that the children have produced that’s inspired by their town and their history.”

The secondary school pupils shared pictures they had taken and information they had collected with the primary children, something Adam welcomed because it allowed students of different ages to collaborate.

The project involved close collaboration with Lucy MacLeod of Outpost Arts and the Langholm Initiative Textiles Eskdale Project (funded by the Holywood Trust) who organised young people’s visits to Elliot’s Shed and sourced the textiles.

Judith Johnson, Langholm Initiative Project Manager, said: “I was delighted to see how Morag and the children have incorporated traditional Langholm tweeds and beautiful contemporary digital designs – it’s a fabulous mix of old and new technologies.”

Textiles Eskdale aims to re-energise Langholm’s traditional textile heritage and to develop new opportunities for enjoyment, training, employment and enterprise in the sector. This made it a natural partner in the Upland CIC arts project.

Amy Marletta, Uplands Creative Director, said: “The schools work has been a great success under difficult circumstances. The Covid-19 pandemic threw everything into doubt but thanks to the enthusiasm and determination of everyone involved it has resulted in some really beautiful work.
“It’s incredibly positive to see young people building on the history and heritage of the textiles industry to create vibrant new work and to start to think about how it can contribute to a positive and creative future.”
  • The schools project is supported by the Archie Sutter Watt Trust.
  • Making Connections is supported by Creative Scotland and the National Heritage Lottery Fund.
  • See the Upland website at weareupland.com.

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