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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Design

Delving into Dundee’s archives

March 11 2017

Art and design lie at the heart of the creative industries in Dundee, industries which have often been inspired by the leisure pursuits and interests of Dundee’s population. These interconnections are clearly shown in the Archives of the University of Dundee; art and design is woven through many of the collections. This article features a few items which highlight the diversity of design related material held in the Archives. Dundee Art Society started out as the Graphic Arts Association in 1890, changing its name in 1904.  From the outset the group welcomed both professional and amateur artists as well as art patrons and lovers. As the Art College in Dundee grew, many of the staff joined the Society and used its platform to exhibit their art and network with other artists. The striking design for the cover of the centennial exhibition catalogue produced in 1990 echoes to the artistic trends of the early twentieth century. The longevity of the society reflects the continuing desire of artists within the community to join together, curate exhibitions and share their passion for art. Many of these artists had connections with the Dundee Institute of Art and Technology which was dissolved in 1975 to create Dundee College of Technology and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. The Art College remained independent until 1994 when it became a full part of the University of Dundee. All of these bodies are represented in the exhibition material, posters, photographs and student guides in the Archives.  Furthermore, alumnus of the College have contributed to our on-going Oral History Project. Former textile students, Pauline Hann and Sheila Mortlock, were interviewed to capture the personal stories of their time at the College, their career paths and interests. Hann and Mortlock were founding members of Embryo – Dundee Creative Embroiderers, formed in 1980, which developed from the frustration felt by numerous students at the lack of opportunities to exhibit contemporary embroidery within Scotland. The remit of the group was to promote the highest standards of workmanship, achieving this by restricting membership to graduates and undergraduates of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. Embryo actively promoted their work through various exhibitions not only in Scotland but across the UK, eventually joining forces with two other textile groups to form Edge – Textile Artists Scotland. Edge is still going strong and attracting new members from a broader background albeit with a recognised education in textiles. The Archive’s Embryo collection includes exhibition publicity material, photographs and correspondence. Textile samples can be found in other collections, such as The Wilson Bros Ltd collection who were taken over by Pringle of Inverness. The pattern books of the woollen and cloth products they manufactured from 1927 to 1967 are fascinating. They show the changing trends in pattern and colour combinations and how design comes in and out of fashion over the decades. Other samples in the Archives show how design blended with the mass production of durable textiles as seen in the printed designs on linen which form part of the D. J. MacDonald collection. Using only two colours, the rising sun motif for the MacDonald company is bold and graphic whereas the design for Louise, seller of lingerie and hosiery has a more delicate touch with the female form and the name of the brand printed in signature style picked out in red. Jute and linen bags adorned with colourful printed designs are still popular today. Textile design in the city is thriving. Local fashion designer, Hayley Scanlan, studied textile design at DJCAD. Her oral history recording in the Archives tells of her desire to remain rooted in the city despite her burgeoning international career. Proud of her Dundonian heritage, Hayley’s designs are influenced by the changing city and she will soon open her first shop a stones throw from DJCAD where her talents were honed. Records held in the Archive are accessible to everyone. For further information about the Archives and its collections see www.dundee.ac.uk/archives   Sharon Kelly is assistant archivist at Dundee University's Archives Services 

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Business news

Kirriemuir businessman shortlisted for top prize

November 17 2016

A prominent Angus businessman has been shortlisted for the prize of Scotland's emerging entrepreneur of the year. Jean-Christophe Granier (33) is joint managing director of Kirriemuir-based textile manufacturer J&D Wilkie. He said: “It is a huge privilege, and a surprise, to be nominated as an emerging entrepreneur finalist. "My fellow nominees have built excellent businesses and I am thrilled to join their company. "The team and I see this nomination as a watershed moment – it recognises we have the right people, working hard in the right direction, to release the undeniable potential of our business and our sector.” JC, as he is known, left an accomplished legal career to join J&D Wilkie in late 2012. Recognised as a visionary leader, he has an ambition for J&D Wilkie that encompasses US expansion, new investment, potential acquisitions and manufacturing targets stretching to 2021. Originally in the jute industry, the 148-year-old family business manufactures high-performance textile technology for multiple sectors in international markets. It has textile manufacturing and engineering operations in Scotland and China, as well as research and development, engineering and sales sites in England, India and Japan to cater for customers in Europe, North America and Asia. Last year, J&D Wilkie invested £3 million in a new 190,000 square ft. factory in Jiaxing, near Shanghai. The facility houses an integrated spinning and weaving unit, designed to consolidate operations and support growth in China. The move strengthened the company’s position in Europe where its Scottish weaving unit has almost doubled since yarn production started in China. J&D Wilkie has experienced steady global growth since JC’s tenure, with turnover increasing by 18% and profitability by 121%. Last year the J&D Wilkie holding company with a workforce of 295 achieved revenue of £20.33m and a pre-tax profit of almost £950,000. Proud of his French heritage on his father's side, JC as a student imported wine to the UK from his grandfather’s vineyard in the south of France. His father had a career in the oil and gas industry, and the influences fired JC's entrepreneurial spirit. Specifically, the emerging entrepreneur category recognises individuals who are building organisations of outstanding potential. The senior award is for business leaders who have delivered growth in revenue and profits through innovation and teamwork. Previous winners have included some of Scotland's most high profile entrepreneurs such as Sir Tom Hunter and Perthshire butcher Simon Howie. The winners will be announced at the St Andrews Night annual dinner of Entrepreneurial Scotland, an organisation chaired by Dundee video games developer Chris van der Kuyl. The awards are in association with professional services firm Deloitte.

Motoring news

Rising repair costs and whiplash claims behind insurance rise

February 11 2017

Vehicle insurance premiums hit a record high last quarter, rising by more than five times the rate of inflation in 2016. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that tax increases, rising repair costs and increasing costs arising from whiplash injury claims were to blame. According to the ABI’s Motor Premium Tracker - which measures the price consumers actually pay for their cover, rather than quotes - the average price for private comprehensive insurance in Q4 2016 was £462. The highest figure recorded before this was in Q2 of 2012, when the average price was £443. The Q4 figure for 2016 was up 4.9% over Q3, equating to a £22 rise in the average premium. It was also found that the average premium for all of 2016 was 9.3% higher than the average premium for 2015. ABI’s assistant director and head of motor and liability, Rob Cummings, said: “These continue to be tough times for honest motorists. They are bearing the brunt of a cocktail of rising costs associated with increasing whiplash-style claims, rising repair bills and a higher rate of insurance premium tax. “While we support the Government’s further reforms to tackle lower-value whiplash costs, it must not give with one hand and take away with the other. The sudden decision to review the discount rate has the potential to turn a drama into a crisis, with a significant cut throwing fuel on the fire in terms of premiums. “Insurers are open to a proper dialogue on how to reform the system and urge the Lord Chancellor to engage with the industry about setting a rate that is fair for both claimants and customers.” Meanwhile, the RAC has released research that suggests not indicating when turning is our number one annoyance on the roads. Well over half (58%) of the survey’s respondents said failing to indicate was the top inconsiderate behaviour. It was narrowly ahead (56%) of those who thought middle lane hogging was the greatest driving sin.

Collectors' Corner

Pattern book tells a story

August 26 2017

IN THE years of writing this column I have never come across a pattern book from a Dundee textile manufacturer. Perhaps they were not required for ‘out-of-sight’ jute products, such as sacking, bagging and carpet backing, and possibly the linen lords, like Baxter Brothers, who preceded the jute barons, felt their exports spoke for themselves. The comprehensive collections of textile records at Dundee City Archives, the Wellgate Library and Dundee University Archives may hold samplers of this sort, but I cannot recall seeing Dundee jute/linen pattern books in the usual quorum of collectable showgrounds – auctions, dealers, fairs and the internet. So, while in York at the end of July, my antennae twitched when a rare set of 10 Victorian leather-bound designer pattern books for Sutton Mills in Macclesfield appeared at Rydale’s Auctions. Sutton Mills was owned by the silk manufacturers J. & F. Jackson & Co. Each of the Cheshire company’s design books showed a range of samples and hand-drawn pencil and painted design sketches dating from 1885 onwards, with many in vivid colours. The pages displayed all types of weaving techniques and designs of the period, as well as the fabrics used in the manufacturing process at the time. With pattern and design numbers, and information on designs and the materials used, the books offered a timecapsule of the weaving trade either side of 1900. More than that, they also provided extensive information on the weavers themselves. Sutton Mills’ silk products were also described. There were samples for silk scarfs and mufflers, including items for the 1897 Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee, animal and bird patterns, including lions, elephants, flamingos and peacocks, Paisley and Prince of Wales patterned items and the new 1924 muffler range. So this was a significant item of local history and probably the best pattern/sample books I have described here since 1999 and the remarkable Thomas Justice & Sons catalogue illustrating furniture from 1905 made by craftsmen at the firm’s workbenches in South Ward Road. This catalogue helped to prove that Dundee possessed its own Art Nouveau designers, many working in the Glasgow School style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Estimated at £5000-£8000, the J. & F. Jackson pattern books justified Rydale’s hopes by taking £7100. Picture: Silk mill pattern books, £7100 (Rydale Auctions).  

Dundee

Duncan Petrie retires after 50 years in textiles industry

April 1 2011

Duncan Petrie (65), associate director of Lows of Dundee Ltd, has retired after a 50-year career in the textiles industry. He has seen the business go full circle. He joined as a 15-year-old in the yarn sales department of Jute Industries when it employed 3000 people in the city. He leaves it long after the departure of large scale textile manufacturing, with Lows of Dundee, a specialist distributor of coated fabrics, industrial textiles and horticultural products employing just over 30 people in the city, at Errol and Burnley. "I've enjoyed my career and have worked with many fine people but the industry has changed dramatically," he said. "We have gone from a big manufacturing nation to a service nation, especially in the textiles trade. Nowhere is this seen more than in Dundee." After Jute Industries, he joined Thomson Shepherd and became production controller. In 1973 he joined J. T. Inglis & Sons Ltd and in 1986 moved to Lows of Dundee when it was formed by former managers of Don & Low, which had been taken over by Shell. His retiral this week has been marked by a dinner on board RRS Discovery. In retirement Mr Petrie intends to enjoy golf and gardening. He and his wife Caroline live at Balmullo and have two daughters.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

News

Relative attends ceremony for pioneering trade unionist Caroline Martyn

July 27 2010

A leading 19th century female trade unionist who died on a visit to Dundee has been commemorated at a ceremony attended by one of her relatives. Caroline Martyn died in July 1896, aged 29, after a short illness. She had been visiting the city to recruit female jute workers into the Dundee Textile Workers' Union. Her great niece Vivienne Flowers travelled from England to speak at the ceremony. It was held in Balgay Cemetery, where Caroline Martyn is buried. She said she was overwhelmed by the support and love from the Scottish community, and by how much her ancestor is appreciated. Ms Martyn's grave was rediscovered last year after inquiries by an English historian. A monument at the burial site has been restored, with its missing column reattached, after detective work by Dundee TUC secretary Mike Arnott. Mrs Flowers was alerted to the rediscovery after reading an online article in The Courier. She said, "I did a lot of reading about her and we're terribly proud. We're still quite amazed we didn't know anything about her." The ceremony, which was attended by around 25 people, was addressed by Lord Provost John Letford. It closed with a rendition of Mary Brookbank's Jute Mill Song.

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