We weave together digital & physical

We weave together digital & physical

Digital Tapestry of the Scottish Highlands and Islands

High Life Highland commissioned us to animate and augment the new Tapestry of the Highland and Islands. Using short videos, gamification and 2D animations, we wove a digital thread through 22 of the 52 hand stitched panels that encourages people to playfully engage with the tapestry to discover the local stories behind each physical panel.

Our augmented reality content is carefully designed to complement and expand the physical tapestry, rather than replace or distract from the intricate stitching and rich textures.

Every digital interaction was intentionally crafted to increase dwell time with a specific panel, and to offer a way for people to participate in the project remotely before hopefully visiting in person.

The completed tapestry will be exhibited within the newly transformed Inverness Castle when it opens in 2025, as well as within community venues across the Highlands and Islands. Our digital interventions will be available through social media, on relevant websites, and accessed via QR codes displayed next to the panels.

Find out more about the Tapestry of the Highland and Islands project here, read about our trip to the Highlands and Islands to interview the stitchers, or read on to learn about the digital tapestry layers we’ve created. 


Tapestry Panels


Digital Overlays


Short Films




The Tapestry has been stitched by volunteer groups from across the Highlands and Island of Scotland as part of the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project, a partnership project between The Highland Council and High Life Highland, delivered in collaboration with VisitScotland.

The Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project is supported by a grant from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund (NCHF), led by NatureScot and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Naturally dye wool colour samples
Tapestry detail

Stitching together past, present and future

The Spirit of the Highlands and Islands collaboration aims to deliver a cultural heritage project that offers many benefits for local communities, helps to unlock economic potential and improves visitor experiences across the region.

Core objectives included:

  • Promoting the diversity of the Highlands and Islands – its Spirit – by promoting places, people and their stories using immersive digital content
  • Creating a legacy of always available content, social advocates, engaged communities and ways of working that will endure and continue to promote Spirit of the Highlands and Islands beyond the end of the project
  • Changing visitor behaviour by encouraging visitors to get off the beaten track and to consider exploring the region at different times of the year

The Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands is a key output: a major community arts project inspired by a historical narrative and local community stories gathered from across the Highlands and Islands, and developed by the team behind the Great Tapestry of Scotland. Panels from the completed Tapestry will be exhibited at Inverness Castle when it reopens in 2024.

Where needle meets digital thread

We undertook the challenge of developing a digital layer of immersive content that would engage Castle visitors at all stages of their journey. Our playful approach to AR felt well-matched to the vibrant, colourful aesthetic of the Tapestry’s intricate hand-stitching. 

Confident in our ability to bring each panel to life in an meaningful and exciting way, we took care to complement the physical stitched panels without distracting from the skills needed to create them. We are experienced in marrying the traditional with innovative technology, evident in our pioneering AR binoculars where we unite an analogue and digital approach.

Crafting our approach

Each tapestry panel has been inspired by the communities of the Highlands and Islands, and contributions from the stitcher groups themselves, to create a unique visual collection of stories about the region. Whether recounting local history or folktales, each panel is entirely unique. 

Before Curio’s developers could begin working on the AR assets for each panel, each physical artwork had to be completed. This required an extra level of flexibility, as certain tapestries were finished much earlier than others, resulting in a versatile, ever changing range of source material.

Once we had received high quality images of each completed tapestry panel, it was time for the digital process to begin.

Our chosen approach included animating elements of the stitched panels to make them pop, and then creating fun, themed, AR games via social media filters to allow for a more interactive experience with the panels. Our AR content assists the storytelling process, highlighting certain details that might otherwise be overlooked in the delicate stitching.

Exploring the Highland and Islands

We also produced six beautiful films to increase the visibility of the Tapestry project and to create a way for people to engage with and enjoy the project even if they are unable to visit in person.

During April, Curio’s Visual Content Producer Simone and Graphic Designer/assistant producer Miriam embarked on a one week trip around the Scottish Highlands and Islands, visiting Inverness and Brora in the East, over to Ullapool, Glencoe and the Isle of Mull on the West coast to conduct each interview. Simone and Miriam also captured some beautiful footage of the surrounding landscapes, complimenting the personal testimonies and evident community feel of the project. Learn more about Curio’s trip to the Highlands here.

Each film takes an interview format, focusing on the various groups of people who have contributed to the project in some way, including the stitchers who have hand-stitched each intricate panel; traditional, local weavers who provided materials; local herring fishers who share their personal experience of living and working in the Highlands and Islands.

By Ewe Stitchers group working on their tapestry

All sewn up

By adding an immersive element to each tapestry panel, we help younger visitors explore the panels and increase accessibility for those unable to attend the exhibition in person. Pre or post-visit they can see documentary-style videos of the stitchers and the locations which inspired the panels; during their visit they can use our AR interactions to bring the panels to life.

Our AR interventions build upon the visual storytelling of the tapestry artwork, inspiring travel to ‘off-the-beaten-track’ locations, and encouraging relationships between visitors and Highlands and Islands communities. We hope our digital tapestry will serve as a connective thread throughout the project, encouraging visitors to explore the various locations where the original tapestry panels will be on display.

The combination of hand-sewn and digital tapestry art blends together tradition and innovation. Our digital layer beckons individuals to engage with the rich historical context surrounding each tapestry panel and to look more closely at the intricate details of the work without disrupting its craftsmanship.

If you’d like to discuss the possibilities of developing museum AR or using augmented reality to increase engagement with your project then get in touch via our contact form.