Observations: Weaving a new thread

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The Independent Culture

Tapestry often seems banished to a no man's land between art, craft and design. But with the opening of a stunning new creative centre and a home for Dovecot – which houses Scotland's Dovecot Studios of tapestry weavers and rug tufters – this ancient art is coming out of the shadows. The premises, which opened last week, combine a centre for craft and design allied to a working studio making it the world's top place for tapestry. This gallery and workspace, created out of the shell of Edinburgh's Infirmary Street Baths, looks set to create quite a splash.

Astonishingly, it has been completed without a penny of public money thanks to a generous gift of £8m from Dovecot's chairman, Alastair Salvesen (of the shipping and transport company). It was private money that founded Dovecot in the first place when, in a stroke of enlightened Victorian thinking, the fourth Marquess of Bute – a friend of William Morris – established the tapestry workshops in 1912. Though Dovecot was formally incorporated as the Edinburgh Tapestry Company in 1946 it stuck with its original name, taken from the "doocot" near to its original premises on the west side of Edinburgh.