Coll Pottery in Back on the Isle of Lewis is being brought back to life as a craft centre business by the Whittle family, based for years in Stoneybridge, on the Isle of South Uist, where they ran studios creating glassware and ceramics, Solus Studio and Alan Whittle Ceramics.
The Coll Pottery building –unused for several years and once the national base for Scotia Ceramics - is being extensively remodelled. with new café and gallery areas.
The Whittle family also 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. He attended Fèis Tir a Mhurain and Ceòlas for many years as well as the former Taranasay Fiddle Camp, Alasdair Fraser Fiddle week, and Charlie McKerron Fiddle week. 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.
She also attended Fèis Tir a Mhurain and Ceòlas for many years as well as the former Taranasay Fiddle Camp, Alasdair Fraser Fiddle week, and Charlie McKerron Fiddle week. Also a part owner of Coll Pottery, when studies allow, she makes polymer clay and Chain Maille jewellery.
Mother 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 Whittle, 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 Solus Studio Glass was started, producing items in both recycled and art glass, this has gone from strength to strength.
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. The addition of Celtic giftware saw the expansion of the company into the European and American markets. Later hand built and wheel-thrown ceramics and pottery were added to the portfolio.
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.
Both Alan and Stella are also hobby musicians and did the HNC Music at Lews Castle College in Benbecula in 2003. But they add: “We aren't as good as the kids!”