Exhibitions | 27-04-2023

Caithness Glass exhibition in Inverness

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery will be celebrating the history of Caithness Glass with an exhibition of pieces donated by glass collector Dr Graham Cooley, opening in June 2023.

Over 350 items have been generously donated to the museum from the Graham Cooley Collection, most of which will be on display. From vases and bowls to thimbles and candlesticks, the range of goods designed and made by the company is impressive.

The first Caithness Glass factory opened in Wick, Caithness, in 1961. The aim was to provide much needed skilled employment opportunities and create a product that could be sold around the world.

The early designs by Domhnall ÓBroin showed a strong Scandinavian influence, with colours inspired by Highland landscapes. ÓBroin was followed by Colin Terris and other designers, who introduced more colours and patterns.

The products were popular and the company grew, establishing new factories in Oban in 1969, and Perth in 1979. In 1988 it took over the Wedgwood Crystal factory in King’s Lynn, Norfolk.

However, by 2004, the company could no longer compete with cheap imports and rising production costs. It was bought out of receivership by Edinburgh Crystal but went back into receivership in 2006. This time it was bought by Dartington Crystal, based in Devon. Sadly, all of the original factories have closed, but the Caithness brand is still owned by Dartington and operates from the Crieff Visitor Centre in Perthshire.

Graham Cooley is a 20th century art collector based in England. His collection is focused on the company’s art glass and tableware, rather than the paperweights which have become synonymous with the Caithness brand.

Alongside the exhibition, the book Caithness Glass: Loch, Heather & Peat, written by collectables expert and TV personality, Mark Hill, will be available to buy from the museum’s gift shop, along with some vintage pieces of Caithness Glass.

Most of the collection will be displayed in the Inverness Museum’s Foyer Gallery from 17 June to 19 September 2023.

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is at Castle Wynd, Inverness, Highland, IV2 3EB, Scotland. Find out more via the website.

Image: Range of vases by Caithness Glass, designed by Domhnall ÓBroin in the 1960s.

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