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'Unlikely' guest to unveil Elphin's Journey Through Time art project

By Caroline McMorran

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A tiny Sutherland community unveils a huge work of art tomorrow that has taken months of meticulous planning, hard work and creativity.

The hand-made community tapestry will be showcased in public for the first time at a special ‘celebration” to be held in Elphin Hall.

And an “unlikely guest”, who has not been named, has been invited to perform the honours.

Measuring a substantial 2.5m by 1.2m, the Journey through Time wall hanging is an ambitious geographical, historical and cultural panorama of Elphin past and present.

Local textile artist Jan Kilpatrick, who has a studio in Elphin, was the driving force behind the art project

It was worked on by members of Elphin Craft Circle who hail from Elphin, Knockan, Drumrunie and Strathcanaird.

Around 15 people were involved in designing and creating the textile.

Elphin Craft Circle member Alison Johnson said the impetus had come from Ms Kilpatrick who has undertaken several similar projects.

She said it was also in memory of Elphin resident the late Bridie Purcey who was instrumental in setting up the craft circle with her husband Russell.

“We thought it was a lovely way to remember her,” said Ms Johnson.

The group began planning out the wall hanging, which is made out of fabric, in March.

A grant from Coigach Assynt Living Landscape Partnership (CALLP) helped with the purchasing of materials and the running of skills workshops.

Under Ms Kilpatrick’s guidance, craft circle members worked in her studio, learning techniques such as eco-printing, batik and burning.

Ms Johnston said: “The wall hanging depicts Elphin past and present. It is an aerial view of the road with Knockan Crag on the left and Ledmore Junction on the right.

“There are various buildings - past and present - as well as natural features such as lochs, burns and mountains.

“There is also an area depicting the Elphin riots during the Clearances.”

She added: “We are all delighted with how it has turned out and have had such fun learning new techniques throughout the whole process.”

Ms Kilpatrick said: “Stitch by stitch, throughout spring, summer and autumn the community of Elphin has worked to produce a wonderful depiction of life past and present.”

Working on the wall hanging has sparked an interest in the story of the various features it depicts.

And this had led to some residents making a collection of photographs and historical accounts.

These will be on display at tomorrow’s uneveiling ceremony, which takes place from 2pm-4pm. Ms Kilpatrick said: “We have an unlikely guest to do the unveiling.”

The wall hanging will be on permanent display in the village hall.

The craft circle, which was formed around five years ago, meets at Elphin Hall every Thursday from 2pm-4pm.

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