A touch of tartan

Published on 14 July 2023

From Dundee to New York, tartan is a hot topic of conversation for the University and V&A Dundee this year with a celebration of the Scottish fabric at home and abroad.

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In 1998 the US Senate declared April 6 National Tartan Day, officially recognising ‘the outstanding achievements and contributions made by Scottish Americans to the United States’. Twenty-five years later, the annual Tartan Day Parade on Sixth Avenue is the culmination of a week of Scottish-themed celebrations, a spectacular gathering of thousands of pipers, Highland dancers, clan organisations, and adorably, virtually every Scottish and West Highland terrier in New York! And this year, the University of Dundee’s Alumni Relations team returned to the city for the first time since the pandemic to join New York-based alumni and friends of the University in the parade.

Bedecked in tartan (and in a nod to a famous Dundonian, a Minnie the Minx stripey sweater for Head of Development and Alumni Relations, Lizzi Nicoll), the team proudly took their place in the parade alongside alumni from many of Scotland’s universities.

The team were delighted to catch up with a number of alumni across their short stay in the Big Apple, including Louisiana-born and bred alumnus Damian Broussard. As well as running a nursing practice, Damian’s passion for Scotland and its heritage has resulted in a new business, Celtic Endeavours (CE) Kilts, which creates hand-made kilts for Americans.

During Tartan Week, alumnus, honorary graduate and former rector Fred MacAulay headlined the inaugural New York Scottish Comedy Festival and performed a stand-up routine at Craig Weir & Friends’ Tartan Week Hoolie, hosted by fellow alumnus Craig Weir. Musician Craig and his band Gleadhraich brought the week-long celebrations to a close at the Post-Parade Party at Sony Hall.

Representatives from both the Scottish and Westminster governments were in town for Tartan Week, meeting Scottish-American businesses, and University representatives and alumni were honoured to attend a function to celebrate Scottish Alumni on the Global Stage, hosted by the British Consulate General in New York.

Tartan at the V&A Dundee

2023 sees tartan synonymous with Dundee, as the V&A Dundee’s blockbuster exhibition opened in April to rave reviews. Tartan celebrates the global story of a unique pattern – how the rules of the grid have inspired creativity from the everyday to the sublime.

The instantly recognisable symbol of Scotland, a global textile of tradition, rebellion, oppression and fashion, tartan has connected and divided communities worldwide, inspiring great works of art as well as playful and provocative designs.

The University of Dundee is delighted to be a founding partner of the V&A Dundee and the alumni team were pleased to meet up with V&A colleagues in New York to celebrate the exhibition’s success. The V&A Dundee team were exquisitely attired in bespoke outfits, created in the new V&A Dundee tartan by Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design graduate, Hayley Scanlan.

The Tartan Exhibition is on at the V&A Dundee until Sunday 14 January 2024.

Tickets can be booked on the V&A Dundee’s website

Story category Alumni