The design on this leather stool is taken from one of the Pictish stones found at Aberlemno in Angus. The cross slab known as “Aberlemno 2” features this spiral design at the very centre of the cross – have a look at the photos of the cross slab on the Canmore website.

George Bain seems to have particularly liked this design. In the George Bain Collection we also have transfers – so that people could mark out the spirals on different types of craftwork – and some colourful embroidered cushion covers.

Over the years since it was made, the leather of the stool had started to crack. It seems that whoever made the stool used a type of leather that was not well suited to upholstery. We recently had it conserved by the Scottish Conservation Studio where the conservators treated the surface with a flexible acrylic resin to help hold the leather together. We are grateful to the Association of Independent Museums and the Pilgrim Trust for funding this work.

These spirals were not the only section of Aberlemno 2 that Bain used in new, creative ways. The two sea horses from the bottom right corner of the cross slab unwind joyfully in the waves as the corner pieces of his ‘Hebridean’ rug.