Duncan of Jordanstone alumni to feature in 5th anniversary celebration of Scotland’s Design Museum

Published on 31 March 2023

The Tartan exhibition features exhibits from alumni and Vivien Westwood.

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Tartan at V&A Dundee – Cheddar Gorgeous in a suit designed by Liquorice Black 2017

The Tartan exhibition taking place at V&A Dundee is to feature exhibits from  Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD) alumni Jill Kinnear and Jim Pattison.

The Late Dame Vivienne Westwood, who was awarded an Honorary Degree from the University of Dundee in 2008, will also have work displayed.

Tartan (1 April 2023 – 14 January 2024) takes a radical new look at an instantly recognisable textile and pattern and marks the 5th anniversary of Scotland’s design museum.  

Celebrating tartan and its global impact, the exhibition explores how tartan has connected and divided communities worldwide, how it has embraced tradition, expressed revolt, and inspired great works of art as well as playful and provocative designs. 

It will bring together a dazzling selection of more than 300 objects from over 80 lenders worldwide, illustrating tartan’s universal and enduring appeal through iconic and everyday examples of fashion, architecture, graphic and product design, photography, furniture, glass and ceramics, film, performance and art.

Jill Kinnear, a Scot who studied textile design at DJCAD and has been working in Australia and the US will show two digitally printed textile lengths of her Diaspora Tartans, plus sample books she made of other tartans. These were all created in Australia.

The Diaspora Tartans are made of airport baggage x-rays of metal tartan structures constructed from items found in the hardware store including aluminium bars, strips of nailgun nails and steel wool. Jill constructed these items into tartan motifs around 60cm square, put them through the baggage x-ray machine at Brisbane International Airport and created the designs from the resulting x-ray images.  The designs are a metaphor for migration.

Jill shared her appreciation at being featured in the exhibition and spoke of her abiding connection to Scotland, DJCAD and the city. She said: “I still think I was incredibly lucky to be so well trained in printed textiles at Duncan of Jordanstone; I loved my time there, and it has provided me with a strong foundation for everything I've done since. 

“I was also overjoyed to learn of the new V&A Museum in Dundee. Together with the art school and Dundee Contemporary Arts, it establishes Dundee as a world-renowned arts destination, and brings long overdue focus to the country’s wealth of creativity, innovation and artistic prowess.  That creativity for a long time had to leave and go south, even, as in my case, as far south as Australia.  It gives me enormous pleasure to know that the focus is shifting and centring on the place of origin."

“To be invited to contribute to this important exhibition about tartan is a great honour.  While Scotland looks outward – as it always has done – recognising its diaspora as part of its cultural identity, I can also look back and still feel a part of Scotland’s dynamic cultural narrative.”

Jill Kinnear, DJCAD Alumnus

An xray machine with tartan construction

Jill Kinnear X-raying tartan construction

Jim Pattison RSA, who studied architecture and fine art at DJCAD, shares details on what he will be exhibiting entitled Vestiarium Scoticum: Maide Dealbh.

He said: “Vestiarium Scoticum was published in 1842 by William Tait in Edinburgh and was printed in Mauchline using a new way of printing on shiny paper using aniline dyes. The authors of this publication were the Sobieski Stuart brothers who claimed that it was a reproduction of an ancient manuscript of clan tartans of Scottish families. Shortly after its publication, however it was denounced by some as a forgery. Maide Dealbh, or Pattern Sticks, were once thought to be an ancient method of recording traditional tartan designs, but given that none still exists the idea of this ancient memory aid is now seen as part of tartan lore.

Vestiarium Scoticum: Maide Dealbh combines these two examples of tartan myth and the 75 paintings reference a colour coding method developed by Donald Calder Stuart. This work is part of a series called Tartan Setts and Pattern Sticks which include tartans designed using information from my family history and from my own DNA."  

Red leather book Vestiarium Scoticum: Maide Dealbh.

Jim Pattison: Vestiarium Scoticum

“I am delighted to have work included in this comprehensive look at tartan especially given the venue at V&A Dundee.”

Jim Pattison RSA

An exhibition wall showing several tartans

Jim Pattison: Vestiarium Scoticum : Maide Dealbh

The exhibition features loans from across Scotland and around the world, including Chanel, Dior, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Tate, V&A, National Museums of Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, National Theatre of Scotland, The Royal Collection, Fashion Museum Bath, the Highland Folk Museum and more, many of which are being shown together in Scotland for the first time.

The University of Dundee and V&A Dundee will also be travelling to New York to celebrate Tartan Week this April – sharing and celebrating the city’s cultural and educational art and design credentials.

To find out more about visit Tartan at V&A Dundee

Background image credit: Jill Kinnear's Diaspora  tartan 6 with co-ordinate

Story category Alumni