The iconic fabric and its rich history is to be celebrated at a V&A Dundee exhibition which will display 300 pieces of tartan from all walks of design
While you may associate tartan as simply a mainstay of Scottish landowners, a new exhibition is aiming to show there’s so much more to the fabric than just that.
The V&A Dundee in Scotland is launching its show - aptly named ‘Tartan’ on 1 April and aims to take a radical look at the fabric in all its varied iterations.
Gallery director Leonie Bell explains: “Tartan is linked to a hugely diverse range of identities. It is the cloth of the establishment, of political power, regal power, military power. Yet at the same time, it’s a symbol of subcultures and new identities, whether that’s 1970s punks or Japanese fashion influencers today”.
The exhibition will be made up of more than 300 objects from more than 80 lenders from across the globe.
Tartan has traditionally been a favourite of British royalty, and while it’s typically used in clothing and accessories - a pair of Dr. Martens in the material will be on display (see above) - it is also used across the design spectrum, from architecture to furniture and art.
A particular standout at the exhibition will be a piece of what is said to be the oldest ever tartan found in Scotland.
Researchers say the fabric, named after the Glen Affric bog in which it was found, was most likely made between 1500 and 1600. A curator at the V&A Dundee, James Wylie, called the discovery “a historic find” and added that it’s “immensely important” to put it on show to the public.
‘Tartan’ is at the V&A Dundee from 1 April to 14 January 2024.