Coll Pottery in Back was yesterday (Thursday May 17) brought back to life as a craft centre business by the Whittle family.
After months of renovation and preparation, the café and gift shop areas were opened to the public at 11am – with a whole range of new products on show, along with some old favourites.
Based for years in Stoneybridge, South Uist, Stella and Alan ran studios creating glassware and ceramics and this work is available from the new centre.
The Coll Pottery building –unused for several years and once the national base for Scotia Ceramics – had been extensively remodelled and plans for a wider visitor experience being developed over the coming months.
The Whittle family combine musical skills with a variety of craft accomplishments. Aidan Whittle, aged 22, is a fluent Gaelic speaker, who studied at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and plays the fiddle and pipes. As a part owner of Coll Pottery he is setting up as artist blacksmith.
Angharad Whittle is 20 and is also a fluent Gaelic speaker, who studied at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and plays the fiddle, flute and whistle.
She is currently studying for an Applied Music Degree at Lews Castle College, Benbecula. Also a part owner of Coll Pottery, she makes polymer clay and Chain Maille jewellery.
Stella started her working life in retail in Knightsbridge, London, working for Laura Ashley, Debenhams, and then Royal Doulton. She later spent 12 years as an administrator in the Ministry of Defence. In 1991 she formed a partnership with Alan, making cold cast sculptures of Hebridean interest, and Celtic giftware. This was eventually marketed all over Scotland and exported to USA and the EU. In 2003 she started Solus Studio Glass, producing items in both recycled and art glass.
Alan spent 26 years with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, specialising in radar and missile systems eventually ending his service career in 1990 as head of Engineering, Support and Planning, REME Wing, RARH. He started Uist Crafts in 1991, producing sculpted models of vernacular Hebridean buildings and indigenous wild life.
Alan was also responsible for the design and production of a range of Gaelic wooden puzzles, mainly aimed at pre-school children under the brand name 'cluiche', the English versions of which found themselves being retailed in some of the most prestigious toy shops in London, as well as across Scotland.