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Fife to host Scotland’s first festival showcasing the nation’s forgotten textile

Festival director John Ennis.
Festival director John Ennis.

Fife is hosting Scotland’s first flax and linen festival to showcase the history of the nation’s forgotten textile.

Communities across the region have been growing their own flax in preparation for the event, which launches next month.

And visitors are asked to dig out any linen memories and artefacts from the once thriving industry.

Dolls made of linen will be on display.

Festival director Dr John Ennis said Fife is arguably at the centre of Scotland’s flax and linen heritage.

He added: “When people think of Scottish textiles it’s often tartans, tweeds and Paisley shawls that spring to mind, but linen should be up there too.

“Its role in the story of Scotland was huge but it’s slipping out of history and is at risk of being forgotten.

“Fife was at the heart of all that. Flax and linen once played a huge part in the landscape, prosperity and culture of the kingdom.”

Displays and workshops

The festival’s main exhibition will take place at the former Stocks Linen Mill in Kirkcaldy, now the home of Stocks Carpets.

However, it will also take in a number of other towns and villages with satellite events in Ceres, Falkland, Strathmiglo, Markinch, Auchtertool, Burntisland, Dunfermline, Inverkeithing and Leven.

Each community will host a range of displays, walks, talks and workshops showcasing linen and flax heritage and contemporary design.

It will include a tour of the former flax mill and a demonstration at Silverburn Park, Leven.

An open garden and damask display at Auchtertool House is another highlight, along with a “twilight talk” about wellbeing and culture at the Old Kirk, Kirkcaldy.

Meanwhile, visitors will be given a chance to trace their family tree at a linen roots workshop.

John Ennis, right, with Dave Reid and Amber Ward, during a previous linen exhibition in Kirkcaldy.

All the events will be free but ticketed.

Dr Ennis has been researching Scotland’s linen stories for four years and has hosted smaller exhibitions around the country, including two in Kirkcaldy.

He said the passion from visitors had inspired next month’s event.

“We have journeyed around Fife in the last four years and so many interesting stories have emerged,” he said.

“It’s wonderful to draw on these for Scotland’s first Flax and Linen Festival.”

The festival runs from September 3 to 19 and further information is available at www.journeysindesign.com

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