Tartan Connections – co-founded by Moira Dalgetty and Spiros Papadakis – is based on the beautiful Isle of Bute off the west coast of Scotland. Tartan Connections’ mosaics are art in tartan. A variety of different tartans are hand-stitched and hand-woven together to form something that has never been created before – a tartan made from individual tartans.
Each mosaic is made to order, with the permutations of the tartans being particular to every individual mosaic. No-one else, ever, anywhere, will have a mosaic that is the same as yours – these mosaics actually are unique, in the true sense of the word. Set in bespoke, hand-finished frames, the mosaics are art pieces that reflect and represent your connection to Scotland, whatever that might be.
How it all came about…
The idea of the mosaics was born from a dream. My partner Spiros is a naval officer and when one of his trips went on for far longer than we’d hoped (seven long months, to be precise) I used a reference to Odysseus’ 20-year voyage (you can do that with a Greek partner, without sounding like a pretentious twit!), asking him when he’d be home and he told me I wouldn’t be Penelope forever – she was Odysseus’ wife, who spent her days weaving to dissuade other suitors whilst she waited for him.
That night I dreamt I was weaving all the tartan I’d collected over the years and kept in a cupboard, always planning to make cushion covers or a quilt from. Next day I had a frame made, and laid out the tartan on the floor, asking myself what it meant to me as a Scot. For us, tartan is a family signifier, but its reach is worldwide. Spiros is Greek, my former husband is English, my godson is Vietnamese and my closest friends are Scots, Greeks, English and Irish. All of them have a wee bit of tartan – a kilt, scarf, skirt, slippers, whatever – so that’s what connects us all.
I then proceeded to cut the tartan, stitch and then weave it into what we call mosaics – and so Tartan Connections was born. Since then, it has taken us on its own wee journey. The First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, has one hanging in the Cabinet Room of his official residence, Bute House, and they have been shown in art galleries across the country. The mosaics have been commissioned as family heirlooms, wedding and anniversary gifts, and we have also worked to commission for high-profile people.
The latest twist in this amazing tartan tale is that the Scottish Tartans Authority have appointed me as a Governor, which I greatly appreciate, so I’ll be forever grateful for the inspiration of a dream.
“It is not every nation that carries its art on its back in the course of its daily business, and it is time for the dignity that belongs to tartan to be restored to it.”
James Scarlett MBE, Tartan Scholar and Historian