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Time and Tide and Tapestry

In April we travelled to Orkney for a week of wild weather and wide horizons. Catching up with old friends was fun, and for me seeing what I recognised after three decades away was always going to be interesting.

One of the places I had long wanted to visit is Hoxa Tapestry Gallery. It is here that mother and daughter, Leila and Jo Thomson, weave and display their pieces for sale. Their work is inspired by the rhythm of life and landscape of Orkney.

The setting of the gallery/workshop is glorious in itself, surrounded on three sides by open water and endless skies. Just standing there was inspiring.

Echoes - tapestry by Leila Thomson

Leila and Jo have quite different styles, though both are masterful in woven tapestry techniques and use of colour. Below is a detail from 'Testimony' by Leila, which is 13' x 7'. Many of her works feature birds and I love the moonlit details on this flock.

Detail from Testimony tapestry

Her use of aerial perspective - bird's eye views - enables her to describe almost infinite space and aeons of time. Much of her storytelling feels like poetry in woven form and elicited in me a visceral response. I wanted to linger within these tactile creations, or better still to step into them and fly.

Ribbon of Life tapestry

'Ribbon of Life' is 6'x3'. Deceptively simple yet encompassing the constant rhythm of all living things.

Jo's work is more directly linked to her drawing and painting practice. She blends multiple shades to create works which are simultaneously busy and calming and she captures shell-strewn beaches and light over water beautifully.

Shore studies by Jo

If you have the opportunity to travel to Orkney I hope you will choose to wend your way to South Ronaldsay, into St Margaret's Hope and then follow the little road to Hoxa, stopping at the perfect Sand of Wright en route.

close-up of tapestry in progress

Photography within the gallery is discouraged, perfectly reasonably, so the images above are not of great quality. I have either taken screenshots off the website or photographed cards which I bought there. Go see the real things up close and marvel at the skill and patience to create such timeless beauty with wool, silk and cotton. You will be as awestruck as I am.

Comments: 3 (Add)

Carolyn on June 19 2022 at 22:35

I visited this wonderful gallery some years ago and bought a print of one of Leila’s beautiful tapestries - it is truly stunning and I see something different every time I look at it! Please go if you can.

liz lawrie on June 10 2022 at 16:14


Nancy on June 5 2022 at 15:43

How beautiful - would love to see these in person!


New stitched samples awaiting their turn under the lights…

Maybe tomorrow😉
Tart holding forth at this afternoon’s workshop @atbirkhillhousecic ☺️

This is such a welcoming and relaxing venue and I am delighted to be headed back in July to run Kantha sessions.

 - - -🪡 - - -

Find out more about these and lots of inspiring workshops at
Stitchy Sunday - - - - -

🧵 Boro boxes back in stock
🪡 New Fat Quarter packs listed
💙 Off to run a Slow Stitchin’ Blues workshop this afternoon 🤗
In the shop very soon🤞🏻
🧵One boro-style workshop space has opened up for Sunday (26th) in the Borders😳🪡

Grab it by following the workshop link @atbirkhillhousecic 

Boro bits as far as the eye can see here today. Busily making more #boroboxes for all those who missed out recently. They will be in the shop on Saturday sometime..🏃🏻‍♀️💙
A rainbow of possibilities 🤗

Just collected this morning, these will be transformed into joyful little stitchery works at a workshop in the Borders this summer.
Wednesday windowsill

Roses and Shadows edition🌹
Shades of serenity, 
with a splash of joy


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