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Artist Andrew Crummy on New Year Honours List

  31 Dec '22   |  Posted by: Birlinn

It is with great delight that we relay the information that Scottish designer and artist Andrew Crummy has been awarded the MBE in the new King’s first New Year Honours list for ‘Services to Art and to Cultural Heritage’ in Scotland.

Perhaps best-known for his outstanding work on The Great Tapestry of Scotland, Andrew Crummy has in fact been the artist behind 25 separate tapestry projects (starting with the Prestonpans Tapestry and currently working on the Spirit of the Highlands Tapestry and the Dundee Tapestry amongst others) and a wide range of murals and public art.

Born in the Craigmillar area of Edinburgh, Andrew’s introduction to art was through The Craigmillar Festival Society and the work of its founder, his mother, Helen Crummy – herself an MBE. 

Helen Crummy was a social activist with a determination to change for-the-better, the outlook of those living in areas of social deprivation. The daughter of a fiddler, she asked the headteacher at her son’s school in Craigmiller if he could be taught the violin. That teacher told her ‘no’ and in doing so, lit a spark. She went on to work with mothers in the then impoverished area to give opportunities to local children deprived of music, art and drama tuition and, through the arts, help them to develop their unfulfilled potential. Under her guidance, the Craigmillar Festival went on to find international acclaim. Andrew is her youngest son and his childhood memories are filled with ‘festivals, drama, music, clowns, colour and laughter’.

Community and public art in all its forms inspired and fuelled Andrew’s own drive and this is evident in so many of his projects where he works collaboratively with fellow artists, writers, historians, local experts, stitchers and community groups, local councils and government. The work of this modest – but quite outstanding – artist and man changes lives and brings communities and individuals together. He brings the arts to the people and asks for their contribution in time and talent… and they give it in abundance. More than 1000 stitchers worked with Andrew on The Great Tapestry of Scotland, more than 600 have engaged with the current Spirit of the Highlands project. Some are experienced researchers, artists, crafters. Some have never picked up a needle in their lives. For many, the communities built through and around this activity not only encourage engagement in the arts but can offer long-lasting friendship ­and relief from loneliness and resulting struggles with mental health. Through his work, Andrew reaches individuals of all ages and all backgrounds and sees the true potential in them all. And this last, is his vital contribution to the country’s cultural life.

In 2022, the newly-designed building housing The Great Tapestry of Scotland opened to the public in Galashiels, in the Scottish Borders. Again, bringing together art in all its forms, this great work of art now sits in a superbly designed gallery and delights local ‘Borderers’ and visitors from across the globe. It is a beautifully stitched artwork that tells the story of the Scots from ice age to current times and celebrates our country and our communities. Designed by Andrew Crummy, inspired by Alexander McCall Smith, with the historical narration created by Alistair Moffat and the talent of 1000+ stitichers, it is certainly one of the finest examples of Andrew’s gifts to the nation. It is the envy of countries around the world and Scotland is forever in Andrew Crummy’s debt.

Andrew Crummy – artist

Andrew trained as an illustrator at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, before going on to do an MA Design course at Glasgow School of Art. Life then took him to London where he worked for Everything But The Girl, New Musical Express, The Observer, Timeout, and Good Housekeeping. Large scale murals promoting the Midland Bank followed in busy High Streets across the UK, preserving and telling the stories of cities, towns and communities. He worked as Mural Convenor and one of three main painters on the Prestonpans Mural Project – depicting the town’s culture and history and propelling the town to the status of Scotland’s Mural Town and he went on to design many mural projects around the world.In addition to large scale works for public platforms, Andrew has been involved with a range of book publications, multimedia events, festivals and educational programmes and is a much sought-after public speaker.

With his mother, Helen Crummy, and others in the area, he developed the idea of Communiversity – an idea that again crossed continents – taking arts and education out of institutions directly to people and communities, empowering them to transform their lives. They organised a Communiversity conference in 1997, chaired by Andrew, attracting delegates from Mexico, Italy, Malaysia, Australia, South Africa, Finland and Ireland.

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