THE Usk Tapestry, a nine-year labour of love by 50 volunteer stitchers of people in many roles finally went on public display at Usk Castle, last weekend (30th to 31st May) by kind permission of Rosie and Henry Humphreys.

More than 100 people attended the unveiling, and many more saw the tapestry over the weekend.

Speaking for all the stitchers, Beccy Paget gave a moving address. She said: "We have been privileged to be a part of something truly magical and dare I say spiritual. So many people I speak to in my profession and among our group of stitchers speak of how sewing/stitching has therapeutic qualities, losing yourself in the colours, the concentration required to sew and the joy of creating.

"Daily troubles and problems drift away for a few hours, leaving you feeling relaxed and more able to tackle life's ups and downs. Over the years some of our stitchers have lost loved ones and overcome illnesses, but the friendships made have made those sad times more bearable."

Chairman of the Usk Tapestry Committee, Hamish Sandison, said: "The Usk Tapestry would not exist without its stitchers, this is above all their achievement but I also want to pay tribute to the professional team that led them: Susie Martin and Sarah Windrum.

"Susie created the design; she is the artistic inspiration for the tapestry. Sarah is the professional tapestry maker who oversaw every stitch and ensured that Susie's artistic vision was translated faithfully into a very different medium.

"Both Susie and Sarah's artistic inspiration and professional skill speaks for itself in what you see before you."

The community project, supported by hundreds of people in many roles, is looking for a permanent home as the site at County Hall has proved inappropriate due to the siting and the levels of ambient light.

Mr Sandison, said: "The completion of this glorious work of art is a tribute to local craftswoman the late Margaret Turner whose idea it was, to painter Susie Martin who designed it, to tapestry-maker Sarah Windrum who oversaw the work, and to the more than 50 volunteers from in and around Usk who stitched it.

"The Usk Tapestry Committee is committed to ensuring that it remains publicly accessible in perpetuity."

Designer Susie Martin added: "The semi-abstract design has been interpreted by the team into shimmering seas of colour, created by mixing wools in the needle. The dreamlike finished tapestry is peaceful and contemplative and celebrates the wholeness of the natural world that inspired everybody from the start.  Images of the wildlife and places so special to the spirit of our town also appear, with the River Usk flowing through the centre."

Following the unveiling at Usk Castle by the mayor of Usk, Councillor David Harding, it will go on tour through South Wales, including a temporary exhibition at the Senedd in Cardiff.

For more information, please contact the Secretary of the Usk Tapestry Committee, Dee Bury, on 01291 672371 or via email to [email protected]">[email protected].

Pictured with the tapestry are (right) Susie Martin, with (left) Sarah Windrum, Daniel Addams-Williams, Anita Withers and Lesley Taylor.