Cromarty Archive

Alison Dunn working in pottery

Alison Dunn working in pottery

Date Added: 28 July 2003 Contributor: Scottish Field magazine Year: 1969 Picture No: 427

This picture is used with the kind permission of Scottish Field, which used it in their article 'Cromarty, the Forgotten Town' by G. Allan Little, in their March 1970 issue. This is Alison Dunn using a 'jigger' to make small, regular dishes in a mould.

Groups: 1970 Scottish Field Article


Hi there, looking through some old dishes I found one with Alison Dunn, Aultbea, Scotland on the bottom of it. Having put the name through Google it has came back with this site. Just to see if you would require the dish for museum or archive purposes. It has been repaired at sometime and you can notice a hair line crack. If you require photos just e-mail. Thanking you, Ally. Comment left on 01 April 2004 at 21:18 by Ally Armstrong.
Thanks for the info Ally. The dishes you have were probably made around 1964-1965 which was when my mother, Alison Dunn, ran her pottery in Aultbea (my father was the baker there). The family moved to Cromarty in late 1965. So the pieces are of fair age, but not quite ready for a museum - better not let my mother hear that ; )
I've been told that one of the stands at the 'Barras' in Glasgow specialises in pottery, and they usually have a selection of my mother's and father's dishes. So hang on to them - they may be worth a bob or two in years to come.
Comment left on 02 April 2004 at 13:55 by Colin Dunn
After reading the above comments about Alison Dunn's pottery, I went to a cupboard where I keep rarely used items. I remembered I had a small vase, with bluebells painted on. On the bottom are the words, 'Alison Dunn, Cromarty.' No date, but I think I might have bought it when I was in Cromarty in the early 80s. So, Colin, please tell your mother that one of her pieces is now on display in Berkeley, California. Let's hope it doesn't get smashed in an earthquake! Comment left on 02 April 2004 at 19:59 by Margaret Tong (Cowie)
Aroung a year ago I found a rather attractive saucer in my local charity shop. I checked the underside and the name Alastair Dunn (Cromarty) was written. I loved the idea that someone had lovingly made this saucer and so I bought it. I have only just felt the need to search for Alastair Dunn and I ended up here. I am assuming that Alison's husband made this saucer. I thought it may be nice to know that its used daily and friends have commented on how attractive it is. I would agree. x Comment left on 25 June 2004 at 00:06 by Kelly White
I may have sent mail to the wrong address, sorry. Found this site. Interesting. My name WAS Alison Dunn. My parents (Dad from Dunning) visited Scotland in 1965 and I still have two treasured pieces of pottery they brought back for me then - I was just 18! Special to have them - my parents have gone, but I treasure the pieces of pottery and use them in my home in Auckland NZ! They are a tiny jug and bowl. Comment left on 02 October 2004 at 07:56 by Alison Roberts
It's just amazing how a charity shop find leads one to find out all sorts of interesting facts about an obviously talented artist! I just bought two small dishes in one of my local charity shops in Daventry, Northamptonshire (I collect all kinds of stuff and love finding bargain peices of studio pottery in charity shops) and had no luck tracing the maker in my referance books. I did what others have done and used the internet. My small dishes are beutifuly decorated and are marked Alison Dunn Cromarty Inverene. They are just fab and I will add them to my growing clutter. I guestimated them to be mid 1970s but it appears they may have been made nearer to when I was born in 1965. I find this amazing as the dishes have no glaze crazing and the colours are vivid and bright! A testiment to the crafts woman that made them! Comment left on 08 April 2005 at 19:11 by Andy Nixon
I agree with Andy Nixon, it is amazing what you can find in charity shops. This morning I just knew the piece in the window was a little bit special. I purchased the kidney shaped dish with the moss green glaze and the 'scratched' in dragons and came home. I looked underneath and could only just make out the name Alastair D.....but the following letters were a bit hard to make out and the word Oromarty which later turned out to be 'Cromarty' as the first letter is a bit fatter than the rest. As you say Colin Dunn, hanging onto this piece may prove to have been a wonderful investment for my sons. For now I will be proud to put this piece somewhere prominent where the two dragons can happily watch the world around them.

Any idea when this piece was made at all? It has a border that reminds me somewhat of Stonehenge with half finished circles between the larger 'stones'. The two dragons face the same direction and one overlays the other. It looks to me like the 'engraving' was done onto a moss green coloured area prior to the clear glaze being put on over the top and over the sides almost to the base.

Click here to see what I mean.

Best regards
Comment left on 12 October 2005 at 16:29 by Tania Jones
I have an Alison Dunn dish as well. My aunt, Martha Watson, in Dundee, gifted it to me a couple of years ago. It is about 5 cm in diameter in reddish clay. Inside has a blue cicled base with "petal" shapes around it and green dots around the rim. Alison Dunn, Cromarty on base.It is in constant use. Any idea of date? Aunt Martha and my grandmother Ina Watson (formerly Ina or Roseina Doull(Watson) of 5/7 Braehead until 1927) visited Cromarty from Dundee as often as possible.Husband, myself and Martha still come most years. I have the article from The Scottish Field. Comment left on 11 February 2006 at 16:40 by Alexandra Norton (nee Watson)
Hi Tania. Apologies for the delay in followup. I reckon that your dish probably dates from around 1972-3, when my father had a particular interest in Celtic designs. Certainly the kidney shape wasn't carried on much later than 1975. It's good to know, with my parents both now elderly and infirm, that people are still enjoying their work around the world. Comment left on 14 June 2006 at 14:31 by Colin Dunn
Hi I also found a lovely little bowl signed Alison Dunn aultbea and it has flowers and leaves on it it is a lovely peice and was interested in the artist I found it at a car boot sale for 20p so got a bargain. Comment left on 08 September 2007 at 19:49 by Tracey Balmer
I have a little dish I bought in a charity shop, lovely green and blue glazing.On the bottom it says, Alistair Dunn CROMARTY A.M.C 1969.Its a treasure.
Comment left on 21 September 2007 at 02:56 by Lesley
Very Impressive ceramics. I purchased a small piece this morning in a triangle shape with what looks like seaweed in blue & Green on the inside of the bowl...Just Beautiful. It's marked on the underside with an "A" inside a "D" and reads "Cromarty" under that. I purchased it at a local thrift shop for a whopping 0.35 Cents...WOW. Just a Darling Piece. Comment left on 14 March 2008 at 16:14 by Bernard
Hi. I found a great little dish in a table sale in a tiny village in Wales, shaped like a 50p piece with a green design signed Alison Dunn, Cromarty. I was given it by the seller for free because I admired it so much. I just love it. Comment left on 18 July 2008 at 12:33 by Sue
Alastair and Alison Dunn were very special friends of mine -- I used to help in their shop in Cromarty and just loved it. I am really keen to obtain any of Alison's miniature flower paintings or any of their ceramics -- please contact me if you have anything you can bear to part with. Comment left on 22 July 2009 at 20:41 by Jan Scott-Lodge
In the 70's my mother bought me a plaque in the shape of a flower with what looks like a sea anenomie in the centre. I love the plaque to bits, so sorry I'm not parting with it. Comment left on 09 November 2009 at 10:48 by Vivien Ward
I have just bought a little dish signed AD, Cromarty. It's so lovely and it will have pride of place in my Kitchen.I feel as though I have bought a little bit of history. Does anyone know - was it Alison or Alistair that signed a pice with initials rather than their name in full? Comment left on 30 May 2011 at 18:30 by Jackie Bennett
Jackie, if you send a photo to the site I might be able to identify it for you. I am her daughter, Fiona.

[Editor - see picture #2955)
Comment left on 01 June 2011 at 10:20 by Fiona
Hi Jackie. Yes, that's my Mum's signature alright. I checked a few pieces when I was home for lunch, and though most of her early work was signed with her full name, for the last 15 years or so she just used her initials - a D with the A as the vertical. Comment left on 01 June 2011 at 15:49 by Colin
Hi there, I have just purchased a triangular dish about four inches each side,in earthy green tones, what looks like a flower pattern, petals shapes,white lined. I paid 20p and as I know a good piece when I see it, and since finding this website, I am very pleased to declare that I will treasure it and pass it on to my sons. A quality piece for sure by extremely talented artists. My ancestors from Kinghorn - I have a good eye! Comment left on 13 June 2011 at 01:35 by Lisa
Hi, I recently purchased a small what looks like a 'pill box' signed Alison Dunn, Cromarty for £4.00 in an Antique centre in Harrogate North Yorkshire. It is bluey grey & cream in colour with a leaf & flower pattern. Beautiful!!! Comment left on 18 March 2013 at 08:59 by Andrew Mitchell
Hi, I have inherited a "triangular" dish marked on the back Alison Dunn, Cromarty. The pattern is in blues and greens of leaves or perhaps a flower and has 2 wavy lines bordering round the top. Can you tell me anything about it, please? Comment left on 02 May 2013 at 14:13 by Fiona Duncan
How interesting to discover this site, and read the other comments.

My head was turned by a 2 to 3" hand-painted porcelain model of a smew (a fish-eating duck, like the goosander and merganser) - probably at a table-top sale here in Surrey (England). A particularly nice detail is the eyes, simply small holes through which the ambient daylight glows at certain angles - the artist's touch?

Were other birds made by Mr. Dunn, I have seen a few images via Google: including a diver (loon in USA?) and an eider. Are you able to say when they were made? The paper label on our piece reads: "SMEW" Hand-Painted Porcelain By Alasdair Dunn Pottery Isle of Arran, Scotland.
Comment left on 15 July 2013 at 12:55 by Tony LEE - MAGEE
Hi Tony. Sorry, but that's the 'wrong' Alasdair Dunn ;)

Coincidentally Arran Pottery was started on the Isle of Arran by another Alasdair Dunn in the early 1970s. He focussed mainly on slip-cast birds. If you do a search on Google for Arran Pottery Alasdair Dunn you should be able to find more information about his work.
Comment left on 16 July 2013 at 12:19 by Colin Dunn
Alastair Dunn, Mr Dunn, taught art at Maryburgh primary school in the early 70 s. I loved his classes. We were very lucky to have that in a small school. Comment left on 28 February 2014 at 10:49 by Alison Cowie
In 1972 we were 22 years old honeymooning in Britain from the United States. We explored for three weeks in a rented VW beetle. I couldn't remember where we were when my husband chose and bought a little green rectangular dish edged with a wavy black line with three long stems painted in the center. The stems wave as if they are floating underwater rather than growing on land. I remember the choice was very intentional because he was still in school and we didn't have much money so everything was budgeted! For the first time, this morning I googled the name signed on the bottom of the dish and up popped this site. I've had the little dish 42 years! It's moved from Washington, DC to a little town in Vermont and now resides in Upstate New York. It survived, without a chip, the chaos of multiple moves and four children (knock on wood!). However, ten months after the honeymoon my young husband died in a car accident. Always, when I look at the little dish I see it, clear as day, in the palm of his hand. Please let your mother know that her dish became a lovely souvenir of a time instead of a place. It doesn't make me sad. I just wonder at it and it's existence so far from its origins. Maybe at one time I thought a little dish was more fragile than people were. Her work is beautiful and makes my memory tangible. Comment left on 28 July 2014 at 17:05 by Susan S.
Thanks Susan. Sadly, Alison died in 2006 so I won't be able to pass your message on to her. However, I'm sure my siblings will much enjoy and appreciate your comment. It's nice to know that her work is still giving pleasure so many years later. Some of her work is even on Ebay, which she would have loved to know ;) Comment left on 29 July 2014 at 09:04 by Colin Dunn
I have a large snake skin ceramic on a piece of driftwood sold through the Edinburgh Craft Centre in probably the late 60s. It has an apology from Alistair for the wire hanging mechanism. I treasure it and it looks so modern even in 2015 Comment left on 14 February 2015 at 19:47 by Allan Nimmo
My mother aged 103yrs passed away recently, going through her china I have just found a beautiful green and gold jam dish with lid. On the bottom, written in gold, is Alison Dunn, Aultbea. Comment left on 19 July 2015 at 16:37 by Maureen Cassells
I have just googled, my Grandparents had the piece that I now have it is signed on the back AD cromarty, the A is the vertical part of the D. It hangs on the wall like a little inverted cone with a longer piece at the back with a hole to hang ot with. It has a purple flower with green leaves around it. Its an unusual little item but lovely. Its really nice to read all these storys of different pieces by this artist. Comment left on 21 February 2021 by Debbie Beer
Hello Dunn family, I just wanted to let you know that I really love your parents' work and now have 5 of their pieces. I started researching Scottish studio pottery during the first lockdown and discovered their pottery. Latest is a lovely honeysuckle powder pot which seems to be unusual. Thought you might like to hear that their work still brings much pleasure. Comment left on 05 September 2021 by Jenny Evans
Thanks Jenny ;0) Comment left on 30 September 2021 by Colin Dunn
I have two pieces inherited from my granny, we used to do day trips from Inverness to Cromarty back in the days of the Kessock ferry, great memories! I have a 2 1/2" bowl with a blue starry flower and yellow butterfly, signed Alison Dunn, Cromarty and a teal egg shaped bowl with what looks like celtic type spiral flowers? signed AD Cromarty. They've survived many years of moving about but it was just when I unpacked them after moving to within sight of Cromarty that I noticed the signatures! Good posts on this thread, I feel I have a bit more of their history now and will be looking extra carefully in the local charity shops for more. Happy New Year all! Comment left on 01 January 2023 by Lesley Robertson
Good evening

I have a small ring or pin tray cream, green & black flower design... would love to know when it was made and design. It has a signature of A D, CROMARTY.

Can you help?
Thank you so much.

Comment left on 04 October 2023 at 19:31 by Claire Cossar
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