Two sisters who are originally from Derry, one living in Reading and the other in Newcastle, County Down, have been taking leading roles in a project which has proved an outstanding success in one of the most picturesque spots in the city, with more than 4,000 visitors over the three weeks

Some of the team from the Big Weave at St Augustine's - artist Elaine Callan, Libby Glenn, John Strickland and Annette Colhoun. 2806MG01
Some of the team from the Big Weave at St Augustine's - artist Elaine Callan, Libby Glenn, John Strickland and Annette Colhoun. 2806MG01

Once you enter the realms of the Big Weave, it’s hard to get away.

For one thing, it’s such a charming project, and has proved one of the gems of this Culture year. And for another, it’s such a welcoming spot, with those involved and those visiting all full of enthusiasm for what it’s all about.

Annette Colhoun is busy making an upside -down wooden Daddy Longlegs go around. Something to do with the wool!

“I came for a day and I’m here since,” she says. “I’m so delighted to have been involved, it’s been lovely and we meet people from all over the world.”

Central to the whole enterprise are sisters Diane Wood and Elaine Callan, of the Callan family locally. Diane, who now lives in Reading, was involved from the start in pitching the idea to the City of Culture. Elaine did the wonderful and colourful artworks which are the guides for the finished tapestries.

What’s happening in this busy church hall is that the full process is on view and everyone can get involved - from the raw wool to actually making it part of the tapestries which will be around for years to come.

The big tapestry shows Colmcille heading off to Iona with his twelve followers. It’s a fine piece and it’s getting to the final stages. It’s expected that at least six of the seven pieces will be completed by the time the project officially comes to an end tomorrow. The final piece will be finished off in coming days.

Diane says; “The idea is that these pieces will be part of the legacy of Culture year for the city. The biggest Colmcille piece stays here at St Augustine’s, and others go around the city - the round tower goes to Aras Colmcille; the Promise Chalice goes to St Columb’s Cathedral; the Dove to the people of the city, and the Guildhall; the one depicting Ferryquay Gate to the Apprentice Boys; the one of the Walls to The Honourable The Irish Society; and the final one, showing part of First Derry, goes to them.”

Reverend Pat Storey, of St Augustine’s, is clearly delighted with the success of the project - although by the time it ends tomorrow evening she’ll probably be ready for a rest!

“It has been very busy over the past three weeks and that’s been wonderful,” she says. “It has taken off to a degree we didn’t expect. We’ve had a constant stream of locals and visitors and they’ve all loved doing their bit on the tapestries. It’s worked out as a significant contribution to the Culture year.”

Sandra McConnell, one of the Welcome team, says the reaction to the project has been phenomenal - and a treat.