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Highland pottery reaches for the sky

10 August 2010

An internationally acclaimed Highland pottery which makes all its products by hand is exhibiting a new design, and a number of one off pieces, exclusively with Jenners in Edinburgh this week.

The store has had a long relationship with Highland Stoneware. It has sold its distinctive designs since artist David Grant set up the pottery in the tiny North West Sutherland fishing village of Lochinver in the 1970s.

The new range called 'Edinburgh Skyline' will be launched on Saturday (7 August), and limited edition numbered pieces will be available to mark its introduction. The additional one off pieces will include otters, badgers, flowers and birds.

David will be at the store to meet customers and to sign products or chat about the high quality techniques and craftsmanship involved in making the pottery. Its world wide reputation is all the more remarkable given that the team producing all the pieces in the studios in Lochinver and Ullapool numbers only 24.

"Although all the 'Edinburgh Skyline' pieces are painted by Audrey Paton and myself, we all work as a team. The idea for the design originally came from research by Dorell Pirie, another of our hand decorators. We explored it, worked on some trials and the design just seemed to click. We are delighted to be bringing the first of the range, which will include mugs, vases and dishes, as well as some other individual pieces to Jenners," said David.

Jolene Martin is the Scottish Gifts Buyer at Jenners. She commented: "This is a fantastic opportunity not only to highlight the work of a long established supplier but also to be part of the launch of a range which celebrates the city of Edinburgh. As well as the Edinburgh Skyline range we shall also be exhibiting a number of one-off pieces throughout the month of August."

Highland Stoneware pieces capture the atmosphere of Scottish life, with designs featuring wildlife and landscapes. Their production techniques, using a unique palette of glazes and firing processes, create strong, high quality items with an unmistakable depth. The ethos of working also reflects the community spirit in the Highland villages where its workshops are based, with staff sharing in the business' success and visitors welcome to see each piece being made.

While Highland Stoneware has historically sold through high-end suppliers, its work with community and economic development agency, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) means that it is continuing to look at innovative ways of growing.

"We have always listened carefully to the views of our customers. We have seen exciting projects come from that; the creation of new designs, bespoke pieces, dinnerware and decorative work for restaurants. With HIE's support we have been expanding our online opportunities and this is proving massively popular - last year we increased our web sales by 40%. We hope it is opening up the market to a whole new range of customers," said David.

Keith Muir of HIE works with the business to find growth opportunities: "Highland Stoneware is a hugely creative business which is constantly looking at how it can learn from its more than 30 years experience. It is innovative and flexible in looking at the best ways of working. As a key employer it offers challenging and creative opportunities in a remote area and its international reputation and visitor friendly workshops certainly add value to the local tourism market."

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