Driven by historical, visual and aural narratives, The Trossachs Graduate Collection has been influenced by three stories, each derived from a place within the Trossachs National Park.


Each strand has offered the project a differing aesthetic, conceptual or emotional idea, which is explained below with an accompanying mixed media portfolio - used to inspire the Trossachs Collection of textile designs and blankets. 

Click on a place name below to navigate to each narrative:



This strand explores the healing properties that physical contact with the natural environment and its materials are superstitiously said to provide.

This story highlights the importance of tactility in forming relationships with our surrounding natural environment. This has been represented by a local legend, originating from Saint Fillan's healing rituals and practices. One of the Saint's healing practices centres around a collection of blessed stones he had originally taken, from the River Dochart. This river runs through the village of Killin. When held, the blessed stones were believed to give healing properties for ailments.  This narrative was discovered when stumbling through old sound files, kept in the Scottish Studies Library, Edinburgh. Coincidentally, the stones have been housed for many years in Killin's old weaving mill, creating a bond between textiles, tactility and connection to landscape.




Moving south from the village of Killin, we reach Balquhidder.

Balquhidder is said to be a 'Thin Place'.  Thin Places were described by the ancient Celts, who considered these areas to be spiritual places in which the metaphorical line between Heaven and Earth is narrower. The title is historically said to be given by St Angus, of the 8th or 9th century.

Moved by the beauty of Scottish landscape, it is easy to see why to this day these places are considered to be highly spiritual. The idea of spiritual connection is represented in my work through the focus of line in drawing, inspired by the mirroring changeable reflections between the solid and permanent hill side, into a transitional and moving loch below. The sacred attachment to natural environment found from this story has inspired the contrasting use of colour and expressive mark making within my designs. 



Growing up in an arts loving family, traditional music has been a life long influence, and is associated strongly with memories of home, community and sharing.

In order to include this musical association with place, I have explored the Scottish tradition of waulking songs. Historically, this form of music is linked closely with the textile weaving industry, originating in the Hebrides. Before world war one, this form of song would have been prevalent throughout the Trossachs, found in the many mills and weaving communities, that have long since disappeared. Although its practice has now become disconnected from the industry in which it originated, the waulking song remains a strong form within Scottish traditional folk culture, and has become a familiar and personal sound, associated to home. 

Waulking Songs are historically linked with the textile industry, created by groups of women who would sit together to waulk - beat - the tweed - an essential process stage in the manufacture of tweed fabric. Songs were created as the tweed was waulked, creating lyrics to accompany the rhythmic actions of laborious work. These songs became lyrical archives, which recorded local events, gossips and stories of the community seen from the female perspective. In this way stories, music, rhythmic patterns and fabrics have been intertwined within Scottish culture, forming historic connections between people, place, materials and music: resulting in the culmination of a conceptual home. 

Practically, I have utilised rhythmical influences to inform use of pattern and repetitious mark making within drawing and textile designs. 

D R A W I N G + R E S E A R C H 





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orla stevens
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