The current exhibition at an Lanntair, Stornoway is Twilling Tweeds and is a collection of hand embroidered tapestries of Harris Tweed.
The pieces are by Chitrali Artisans from Northern Pakistan. Twilling Tweeds was originally set up by Adil Iqbar who was born and raised in Scotland to a Pakistani family.
As a result of this background he has strong cultural ties to both countries. This was something that he was given an opportunity to express when in 2011 he visited Northern Pakistan.
During this visit he saw many similarities between the ways in which the Chitrali embroiderers and the Harris Tweed weavers of Lewis and Harris carried out their trades.
He spoke of the traditional methods and the way in which both weavers and embroiderers spend a lot of time in isolation, while carrying out their work.
Adil outlined the aim of the collection: “My aim when creating this collection was to connect textile workers in remote areas of Pakistan with those in the Outer Hebrides, creating a bridge between communities and promoting a cultural awareness between the two countries
“The exhibition consists of scenes from Scotland, including many from the Western Isles, embroidered onto Chitrali Calico and Pakistani narratives on Harris Tweed.
This clearly shows how the two cultures have been combined to create these works of art.
The Tweed used for the tapestries was donated by The Harris Tweed Authority and was subsequently sent to Pakistan.
Throughout this project Adil collaborated with Textile artist Alison Macleod who lives in Lewis and runs her Textile Studio - Tiger Textiles, her work is also currently on display in An Lanntair.
As well as developing cultural links another key motivation behind the project was to offer the Chitrali women the opportunity to escape their everyday lives, and to take real pride and a sense of accomplishment from their work.
Some of the women involved in Twilling Tweeds expressed what they had taken from the project.
“I have a lot of respect for the weavers and understand the hard work that goes in making the cloth.
“It’s similar to Chitrali Shu (Woollen cloth) so I instantly connected with the tweed,” Nusrat Khatoon embroiderer from Chitral.
Another Chitrali embroider talked of the weaving songs that she had listened to while working with the tweed: “Listening to the Weaving songs has reminded me of the folk songs and stories relating to Chitrali Shu weaving and embroidery.”
These statements clearly show how enjoyable the experience has been as well as further showing the clear opportunities there are for further developments in the cultural relationship.
The exhibition is set to run until February 6th.
Further information about Twilling Tweeds can be found on: website and on their Vimeo page – Twilling Tweeds.