To mark World Community Arts Day the first panel of the Craigmillar Tapestry was unveiled yesterday.

Dr Helen Crummy MBE is a local legend in Craigmillar. There is a statue in her memory outside the library acknowledging her great influence in the local community, and particularly for her work over the years in setting up the Craigmillar Festival. Helen Crummy died in July 2011 but her legacy lives on.

Her son Andrew is a noted artist and he designed the Great Tapestry of Scotland. Now he has designed the first panel of the Craigmillar Tapestry which was launched yesterday at Thistle Foundation in the charity’s Centre of Wellbeing.

Mr Crummy drew a violin for the first panel to commemorate the beginning of this truly remarkable story. The beginnings of Helen Crummy’s activism lie in the story of her asking the headmaster for violin lessons for her son. She was told : “We have enough trouble teaching these children the three Rs.”

With the support of Peffermill School Mother’s Group and proactive locals, including Muriel Wilkinson who sewed the first thread in the tapestry yesterday, Helen worked to improve life for the generations to come. She did this initially by establishing youth clubs, playgroups, lunch clubs and then in 1964, the first Craigmillar Festival, which showcased the wealth of creativity in this east-Edinburgh suburb.

The arts festival changed the face of community arts across the world from Craigmillar as far as Madrid in New Mexico USA.

Andrew Crummy said : “As the designer of the Great Tapestry of Scotland, and other large scale community art tapestry, it seems fitting to do a Craigmillar Tapestry as to me, it is the home of community arts. We have invited local people to suggest places, stories and people to feature in the artwork and local people will also be invited to stitch it.”

As part of the celebrations Nicholas Viatte-Smith, 11, played the violin, including Skye Boat Song which locals sang along to.

Local poet Rose Ritchie announced the winner of the local poetry competition, with the award going to Leigh Milligan, a local school girl.

Afterwards the audience heard poetry recitals from Johnni Stanton and Craigmillar’s Makar Heather Turner.

Watch this from Plum Films :  Arts the Catalyst, The Craigmillar Story

Arts the Catalyst, The Craigmillar Story from Plum Films on Vimeo.