Colouring the Nation Exhibition

GSA Archives and Collections

A vibrant online exhibition from National Museums Scotland explains the history of ‘Turkey red in Scotland’, an ancient dyeing process that formed a thriving industry in the Vale of Leven, Dumbartonshire during the 19th century. The bright, fast red produced in the sophisticated process became the preserve of the wealthy who desired to have their cotton textiles dyed a sumptuous hue of crimson! Unlike colours such as black and yellow, the method of producing red remained an expensive process due to the complexities involved in its creation. Synthetic dyes eventually won out, but not before a beautifully ornate history had been spun as the ‘Colouring the Nation’ exhibition demonstrates.

The exhibition is based on a collection of 200 pattern books (the Turkey red Collection) which National Museums acquired when the Scottish industry ceased trade in the 1960s. Much like the Stoddard Design Library held by GSA Library, these pattern books were consulted…

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