An exhibition of Hand Embroidered Tapestries on Harris Tweed
by Chitrali Artisans from Northern Pakistan.
Twilling Tweeds is a culmination of work which has spanned a number of years and thousands of miles. It was inspired by Scottish-Pakistani designer Adil Iqbal’s first trip to the bustling town of Chitral, nestled high up in the Hindu Kush Mountains, Pakistan. Partly funded by Arts Trust Scotland, Adil was researching traditional embroidery and textiles in Chitral, a field of which relatively little is known. With the help of Cathy Braid, herself an accomplished Australian designer working hard to bring attention to Chitrali crafts in the West, he quickly saw potential for a powerful social enterprise; one which could empower and tap into the rich embroidery tradition of the local Chitrali women, an isolated demographic in an already isolated location.
On returning home to Edinburgh, Adil spent a further 6 months working on concepts to advance the vison he’d seen in the valleys of Chitral. Something was missing however, a key, fundamental element, which didn’t reveal itself until, on a trip to the Northern Scottish Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, he was exposed to the heritage of Tweed. This beautiful and intricate cloth has been weaved on the Isle of Lewis for generations; but, as much as the luxurious cloth itself, it was the enigmatic weavers who peaked Adil’s curiosity. Exclusively male, the weavers of Lewis, like the female embroiders of Chitral, live in a remote part of the world, and prefer to stay secluded from the world at large. Their work however, speaks for itself, and they weave a cloth befitting some of the finest garments and accessories in the world.
And so the match was made; the men of Lewis would weave the cloth and the women of Chitral would embroider on it unique designs representing both cultures. With this beautiful partnership, Adil would now begin his work: fusing the philosophies of two communities, in order to bring about social change in a secluded part of the world.