As a painter, drawer and textile artist, Scotsman, Andrew Crummy is a humble man who creates art that tells a story and brings people together from all over the world.
Born and raised in Craigmillar, Edinburgh in the sixties and seventies, Andrew grew up around the Arts and creativity, inspired by his mother, Helen Crummy who started the annual Craigmillar Festival Society, a Community Arts organisation of Music, Drama and the Arts with the purpose of bringing people together while instigating political action for Craigmillar, one of Edinburgh’s domineering poverty- stricken areas during that era.
From 1962 to 2002, the Craigmillar Festival Society was regarded as an important contributor to the Community Arts movement that not only lead to Craigmillar’s future growth and development of social concerns and issues, but became an instant success gaining official recognition and charitable status that lead to politicians working for and with the local people that lead to gaining an anti-poverty research grant from The European Community- an economic integration organisation.
Andrew says listening and seeing what his mother had achieved by bringing people together in art to make a difference and help communities was important, so he had that ethos built into him from a young age.
“My mother used the Arts to bring people together to fight for cause and change the environment. Craigmillar was very bleak at that point, so it helped that I grew up around Art that was used to help the community. That combined with the fact that I wasn’t very bright at school, but drawing was something I was good at.” says Andrew.
With his talent for drawing and painting, Andrew enrolled at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, quickly finding his feet and completed his degree in Illustration and Printmaking before enrolling into the Glasgow School of Art and completing a master’s in design and moving to London to work as an Illustrator for newspapers and music and travel magazines such as New Musical Express (NME) and The Observer.
Andrew says he had a great time illustrating for pop bands when he was young and eventually progressed to painting large scale murals through a design agency while teaching that reminded him of some important advice.
“When I was teaching, I was again reminded that if I listened to what my mother had been saying and involved people in my art, things became better, that its not about me as an artist, if I did things that were more communal.”
His work with large scale murals progressed when he met his wife, started a family and moved back to Edinburgh. By coincidence, he moved to a village where he became a Mural Development Programmer and in 2010, was propositioned by a work colleague to help create a tapestry on The Battle of Prestonpans- the first significant conflict of the Jacobite Rebelions in 1745, with one condition: the tapestry had to be one metre longer than the Bayeux Tapestry, a seventy metre long embroidered cloth depicting the events that lead to the Norman conquest of England in 1066.
The one hundred and four metre tapestry, produced in Scotland, England, Ireland, USA, Australia And France and involved two-hundred and sixty volunteer stitches to embellish and embroider, with ten million stitches that used three thousand metres of thread.
Andrew says creating a tapestry which is a combination of re telling history, the people, stitching, embroidery and story telling seems to create more interest with people and says there’s a certain magic to it.
“When the Great Tapestry of Scotland was made, people would come for hours to look. They would learn about the history and enjoy the stitching, which was the main thing, the creativity of the ladies, and designing story telling within that.”
He says the volunteer stitches and embroiders bring a lot to each piece of tapestry and involve hundreds of hours of work, so its as much of a celebration of them and everyone involved, made with love.
With hundreds of exhibitions of his paintings, murals and tapestries worldwide, Andrew says he still finds the attention difficult to take in at times and has always remained humble because his art has always been about bringing people together and commemorating everyone involved.
“I don’t take myself too seriously, because you can’t. What I do is a different thing, a bigger network, and not every artist can do that. I’m simply riding the crest of the wave. It’s not really about me.” says Andrew.
Andrew’s newest tapestry, The Mount Felix Tapestry is currently on its New Zealand Exhibition tour at Papakura Museum. The tapestry commemorates the role of the Mount Felix Hospital and centenary of the Gallipoli campaign in World War one. The forty-four panels have been stitched by a range of community groups, from primary schools, to experienced embroiders.
Andrew says touring New Zealand is interesting and he hopes The Mount Felix Tapestry helps to highlight history that people don’t know about and wants people to come and enjoy the exhibition, the stitching and creativity involved.
“It’s about engaging people and hopefully it produces more ideas for stories that haven’t yet been told.”