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In a week of iconic rebirths Arran’s famous handcrafted porcelain birds and animals have come home to roost.
Island Porcelain has come full circle and can be today be found back in its original home, Studio 4 in Lamlash, after more than 40 years.
Artist Tracey Gibson, who has run the Boathouse in Brodick for 15 years, bought the company last year and had originally planned to open her showroom there. However when Studio 4 became available she jumped at the chance to take it back to its spiritual home. ‘There is a real provenance that the collection is back where it all began,’ she said.
Tracy has transformed the former jewellers and beauty salon into a bright and airy setting for the Island Porcelain wares, which have collectors far and wide, now being produced in the downstairs workshop.
Each figure is individually hand-made, to a high standard. It is then carefully hand-painted and fired to an eye-watering 1200 degrees. Most figures have a matt, unglazed finish which is characteristic of the products. This process means that no two pieces are ever the identical, making each piece truly unique.
Birds make up the majority of the designs, which now number more than 60, though there is a small range of porcelain animals such as dolphins, seals, red squirrels and their popular Corrie Sheep, modelled on the sheep which stand on the quayside at Corrie and Sannox. Personalised items and Christmas designs are also available.
It was in the early 1970s, Alasdair Dunn, the renowned Scottish potter, painter and sculptor began producing the porcelain miniatures from his workshop at Kings Cross ad many of these are still in the growing collection today.
After his death in 1986 his dedicated team continued with his successful business until in 1988 they decided the time was right to follow their own dream. Their continued hard work and determination and, of course, some Alastair Dunn’s vision, ensured the business went from strength to strength, allowing them to purchase the Old School in Kilmory in 1990. By then it was being run by Anne Rhead, Ile Ash, Janette Head and Marie Park and later Morag Grieve.
Their business flourished until 2006 when they decided it was time to sell and the company was bought by Vivienne Lambie. From there Island Porcelain found itself back in Lamlash for a short while before eventually settling in Corrie, where it remained until last year when Tracy became the latest custodian.
For Tracy, a talented painter and craft worker who lives in Lamlash, it is a new challenge but one she is looking forward to. ‘It is very much a work in progress,’ she said, ‘it will probably take me the rest of the summer to get up to speed with the whole range. I expect the puffins to be the best seller, as they have always been, but have also had a lot of interest in the seals and sheep. The customers seem to like what they see.’
When the Lamlash shop is fully up and running Tracy also plans to have a display in The Boathouse as well.
The majority of the minatures sell for around £26 and are also available online at https://islandporcelain.com
Tracy in the Island Porcelain shop back home in Studio 4. 01_B18tracy01
The bright spacious interior of the new shop. 01_B18tracy02
Tracy outside the Lamlash shop. 01_B18tracy03
Inset: A herd of deer under production in the workshop. 01_B18tracy04