Ballarat’s history woven into Scottish tartan cloth

Tartan: Ben Cox with Gordon Morrison in the background. PICTURE: JEREMY BANNISTER
Tartan: Ben Cox with Gordon Morrison in the background. PICTURE: JEREMY BANNISTER

BALLARAT’S rich history has been represented in a Scottish tartan, which arrived on Friday at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

The hand-woven tartan was designed by exhibition officer Ben Cox as part of the exhibition For Auld Lang Syne: Images of Scottish Australia from First Fleet to Federation.

The 28-metre roll was woven in Scotland and has since been registered among thousands of other family patterns on the Scottish Register of Tartans.

“The grey represents the foundations of Ballarat, the dark blue is the Eureka flag, white is the quartz and the stars of the Eureka flag and a seam of gold,” Mr Cox said.

“It is very close to what we expected it to be. It looks very accurate.”

The tartan will be used for bunting and gallery staff will wear it as sashes. However, the tartan’s first sub-division will be for an apron at the Ballarat Apron Festival.

Gallery director Gordon Morrison said the tartan design was sent to Scotland in February, and the long wait had been worth it. 

“It’s very exciting to see this design turned into real fabric and we are now planning to create mementoes for the exhibition,” Mr Morrison said.

Members of the Ballarat Textile Network and Ballarat Spinners and Weavers group will provide a demonstration of how to weave the tartan using a handloom at the entrance of the exhibition at the weekend. 

Ballarat Textile Network member Gillian Robson said the tartan was beautiful.

“We have chosen to expand the design and make it easier to see on the loom,” the self-described “cloth junkie” said.

“I think it’s very attractive, I wish I’d designed it myself.”

For Auld Lang Syne will be open until July 27.


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