About the Project

Welcome to ‘Colouring the Nation’ – a page for the collaborative project run by the University of Edinburgh and the National Museums Scotland.  The project is investigating the cultural and global impact of Scotland’s decorative textile industry, with the Turkey red industry as a primary interest – keep an eye out for the ‘Pattern of the Week’ taken from the Turkey Red Collection of pattern books and textile samples in the National Museums Scotland.  The project will also investigate other aspects of the Scottish textile industry such as Dunfermline linen and Paisley muslin.

This blog will keep you up to date with the project’s progress, any events or workshops that we have planned, and general information for those interested in the history of the Scottish textile industry.   We hope that it will help to create a network of people who want to share their knowledge or learn more about the Scottish textile industry – whether that interest stems from an interest in design, industrial history, trade, or a desire to know more about a local area.

‘Colouring the Nation’ is a two-year collaborative research project between the University of Edinburgh and the National Museums Scotland.  Funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Government, the project will investigate various fancy textile industries of Scotland from the nineteenth century to the present day.  A main motivation for the project was an interest in Turkey red dyeing and printing which was a major industry in the west of Scotland in the nineteenth century, producing bright, exotic, fashionable and popular textiles which were exported around the world. Compared with tartan, however, which is considered the national fabric of Scotland, the Turkey red industry has received little attention – despite its significant contribution to the Scottish textile industry and to Scottish trade.  ‘Colouring the Nation’ hopes to redress this balance by producing new research on the industry and by bringing together all those who have an interest in the history of Turkey red dyed and printed cotton, encouraging the exchange of ideas and interests and identifying areas for future research.

Research is primarily based on the Turkey Red Collection of pattern books and textile samples held in the National Museums Scotland.  These pattern books are a rich resource which can shed light on an industry which has all but disappeared from the local landscape.  They also provide an excellent opportunity for collaborative work between museums, universities, independent scholars, local communities and design students.  The pattern books and fabric samples will be the basis of an online exhibition which will show the different ways in which these printed textiles were produced, who was involved in making them, what styles were popular, who used them and where the markets were.

The project will also examine other Scottish textiles, such as the damask linens of Dunfermline and the delicate Paisley muslins.  The project will study the cultural and global impact of these textiles, how these fabrics were produced, what inspired their designs, how they were marketed and how they were used.

Principal Investigator: Dr Stana Nenadic, University of Edinburgh  s.nenadic@ed.ac.uk

Project Researcher: Dr Sally Tuckett, University of Edinburgh  sally.tuckett@ed.ac.uk

If you would like to join our mailing list, hear about any up and coming events or would like to contribute to this blog please get in touch:

Dr Sally Tuckett (project researcher)

Email: Sally.Tuckett@ed.ac.uk

Tel: 0131 650 2378

University of Edinburgh, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG

Working in collaboration with the National Museums Scotland

COPYRIGHT: Unless otherwise stated, all images on this blog are copyright of National Museums Scotland, with kind permission of Coats Plc.

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