Entries for a national art competition and exhibition which aims to provide a record of the Covid-19 lockdown for generations to come must be submitted by Monday 14 September 2020.

Great Tapestry of Scotland Centre Director Sandy Maxwell-Forbes said: “The Covid-19 lockdown has been one of the greatest periods of reflection in living history. People have been capturing their reflections and feelings beautifully at this time, and the Stobhill Oystercatchers are a fantastic example of this. 

“While no one can experience Scotland’s wonderful visitor attractions and events in person at this time, our Reflections of Scotland art competition is designed to encourage people to positively embrace this time and their artistic reflections of our nation, so that we can record the thoughts of this important period in living history and continue the wonderful people’s story of Scotland so beautifully told by the Tapestry. 

“We would love to see what other artwork people, children and schools across Scotland have been working on at this time to capture the mood of the nation and that great community spirit that helped so many of us through the toughest moments.”

Stobhill Primary School in Gorebridge has entered the competition with the 250 knitted Oystercatchers which school staff made for their pupils. It was parents who submitted the entry to the Reflections of Scotland competition, as they were so touched by the gesture.

Innes Henderson a Primary 2 pupil and Stella Henderson who is in Primary 6 show off their knitted oystercatchers

The Stobhill Oystercatchers were presented to all pupils on their first day back at school. They were each accompanied by a note telling the true story of a family of oystercatchers (which have an amber conservation status) who feel safe to return to the school site every year under the watchful and caring eye of school staff and pupils.

Headteacher at Stobhill Primary School, Mrs Sikes explained: “We are a very close family here at Stobhill Primary School. We decided as a team that we wanted to do something really special for each of our pupils, to reassure and comfort them on their return after such a long time away. 

“We remembered the oystercatchers who return every year. They are part of our Stobhill family too. All the children and young people at our school have grown very fond of them, taking great care to learn about them and protect them so they can live happily alongside us. We realised that this was the perfect way to reinforce how much we care about our pupils and reassure them that Stobhill Primary is a safe place to live, learn and grow together. 

“Our team and their families have done an incredible job of creating such beautiful knitted oystercatchers. We are delighted to hear that they were so well received by parents and pupils, and incredibly honoured to be nominated for The Great Tapestry of Scotland Reflections of Scotland art competition.”

The winning entries will be exhibited in a new purpose built Great Tapestry of Scotland gallery and exhibition centre which is due to open in Galashiels in 2021.

Winners of the art competition will be selected by author Alexander McCall Smith. He said: “I am very much looking forward to judging this exciting art competition. The Great Tapestry of Scotland has done so much to inspire artistic endeavour, and I am sure that here we will all see its positive influence once again.”

Welcoming the competition, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Fiona Hyslop, said: “The initiative will allow everyone from school pupils to professional artists to reflect on their experiences at this unprecedented time and the resulting exhibition of some of the best entries will serve as a permanent record for future generations to help them understand the impact of COVID-19 on Scottish society.

“It is fitting that the exhibition next year will coincide with the opening of the new Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor experience in Galashiels, which the Scottish Government and Scottish Borders Council has supported with funding of over £6 million as part of a wider economic and social regeneration across the South of Scotland.”

The Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor experience, which has received over £6.7 million funding from the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, the Borders Railway Blueprint programme and Scottish Borders Council, will open in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders, one of the UK’s leading textile regions, in 2021. The centre and exhibition space has been purpose built to house one of the world’s largest tapestries and community arts projects – The Great Tapestry of Scotland. The cultural venture is operated by the charity Live Borders, which also manages many of the cultural and leisure facilities in the Borders, including the five star Jim Clark Motorsport Museum.

Great Tapestry of Scotland complete PanelCopyright Alex Hewitt 07789 871 540Reproduction fees payable to Alex Hewitt

The vision of one of the world’s most prolific and best-loved authors Alexander McCall Smith, designed by historian Alistair Moffat and artist Andrew Crummy, the Great Tapestry of Scotland tells the inspirational true story of the country’s history, heritage and culture (from 8500 BC to present day). It was hand stitched by over 1000 people in communities across Scotland and transported by land, sea and air to come together.  It is made up of 160 panels and 300 miles of wool (enough to lay the entire length of Scotland from the Border with England to the tip of the Shetland in the North Atlantic).

For more information about the new visitor attraction and how to enter the competition visit www.liveborders.org.uk/gtos or follow @GreatTapestrySc on Facebook or Twitter, and @GreatTapestryScotland on Instagram.