2023 Art to See – Tartan, V&A Dundee, London

2023 Art to See – Tartan, V&A Dundee, London Opens 1st April

A radical new look at one of the world’s best-known fabrics. The exhibition explores the history and global story of Tartan. It goes beyond the Scottish Highlands and investigates how this woven pattern has influenced architecture, fashion, art, film and products around the world.

Tartan celebrates the global story of a unique pattern, and how the rules of the grid have inspired creativity from the everyday to the sublime.

Cheddar Gorgeous in a suit designed by Liquorice Black, 2017 Courtesy of V&A

This must-see exhibition tells this story through more than 300 objects including iconic examples of fashion, architecture, product design, film, performance and fine art. Tartan is a patterned cloth consisting of criss-crossed, horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colours. Tartans originated in woven wool, but now they are made in other materials. Tartan is particularly associated with Scotland, as Scottish kilts almost always have tartan patterns.

Picasso on Tartan, Fife Arms

TARTAN has connected communities worldwide, a cloth of unity and dissent, inclusivity and diversity, ritual and rebellion, both adored and derided. Inspiring great works of art, as well as playful and provocative design, it has a complex, rich and sometimes painful history.

An extravagant, exuberant experience featuring loans from around the world, including Chanel, Dior, Vivienne Westwood, McQueen, Tate, V&A, National Museums of Scotland, Fashion Museum Bath, the Highland Folk Museum and many more. The exhibition also incorporates ‘the People’s Tartan’ – a changing selection of objects owned and sent in by the public who responded to our appeal to share your tartan treasures. For several centuries, tartan remained part of the everyday garb of the Highlander. Whilst tartan was worn in other parts of Scotland, it was in the Highlands that its development continued and so it became synonymous with the symbol of clan kinship.

This is the first major exhibition curated by V&A Dundee, with Jonathan Faiers of the University of Southampton, and celebrates the 5th anniversary in 2023.