Making Space

Making Space is an exhibiton of my new work alongside new work by my studio and ceramic mate Lorna Fraser.  We are both using the exhibition as an opportunity to develop new installations that are designed to provoke thought and conversation about subjects very dear to our hearts.  For me its all about connection and memory, and for Lorna its conservation in the botanical world.

Making Space is on at Patriothall Gallery, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, EH3 5AY .  The show runs from Saturday 1st October to Tuesday 11th October 2016 and the gallery is open 12noon to 6pm everyday and closed on Wednesdays.


Deficits detail by Carol Sinclair

My work explores the role of memory, the complexity of the personal connections that define us and the confusion caused when those associations are lost. I use gently shifting and changing light between paper thin layers of translucent porcelain to echo the way memories build through layers of experience.  Coloured and textured ceramic pieces simultaneously connect and obscure, seeking to balance what is present with the random absences that are created through time.  For this exhibition my installation creates a physical space that offers the visitor a place to consider their own personal connections.


Scaphium detail by Lorna Fraser

Lorna Fraser is inspired by the infinite array of forms in the botanical world, and takes the intricate fruit of the large tropical tree Kembang Semankuk as her starting point for this exhibition. This tree grows in the rain forests of Malaysia and her installation captures the moment when it releases its fruits allowing them to flutter to the forest floor covering it in a thick carpet.  As though frozen in time, this installation aims to capture the fragility and beauty of this event in the life-cycle of the tree – the completion of another season.  Lorna uses her creative process as a means of engagement and discussion about the natural environment and our duty to protect it.

Making Space  is part of
Luminate: Scotland’s creative ageing festival @luminateScot


The title of the exhibition relates to both the location and the concept behind the work.  The venue is Patriothall Gallery in Edinburgh, where we both have our studios and making spaces – which will be open to the public during both weekends of the exhibition.  More significantly the Making Space title refers to the process of making as a means of creating space for thought, reflection and the development of new ideas.  It also refers to the act of making space in our lives to consider the things that are most important to us, something that has become increasing important to us both as our creative practices mature.

c-sinclair-06Deficits detail by Carol Sinclair

There will be a programme of activities to accompany the exhibition


Sundays 2nd and 9th Oct, 2-3pm – Artists Talk

We will offer a tour of the exhibition and talk about the concept behind our work and the process of creating our installations.

Connecting Art and Science – Sat 8th Oct, 2-3pm

Lorna & Dr Pete Wilkie, Tropical Botanist at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, will talk about the fascinating tree that inspired Lorna’s exhibition and the important work being done to conserve the Malesian rainforests.  Places are free but need to be booked by emailing


The Joy of Clay – 3rd & 10th, 4th & 11th Oct, 10.30am -12noon

Carol will be running a series of workshops for carers, especially for those caring for someone with Dementia.  Places are free and can be booked through Vocal email  or tel 0131 622 6666

Open Studio 

Our studio will be open on Sun 2nd, Sat 8th and Sun 9th Oct, 12-6pm

Making Space will be travelling  to The Meffan Gallery, Arbroath 6th March to 8th April 2017.



New for Old – Scottish Thai Craft and Design Exchange

20160109 Scottish Thai Design Exchange 292What an amazing way to start the year!  When I started this blog I promised myself to update regularly and to talk about all the inspirational creative projects going on that excite me and I need to share.  However,  I was so caught up in this one that I haven’t had time to write about it.  I can’t promise to be any more regular with my posts (I have now discovered how much time is takes me to type accurately) but I certainly want to really shout about this one.

So I was lucky enough to work on a British Council and SACICT project in Thailand back in 2014 when I was part of the Cultural Enterprise Office team, and I met the most amazing group of Thai makers and social entrepreneurs.  Long story short – over a number of months, Jay from the British Council in Thailand, and I explored how we might bring Scottish and Thai makers and designers together to share their ideas and skills, and generally inspire one another.  In January 2016 myself and Anna King, Lorna Fraser, Sam Goates and Naomi Mcintosh travelled to a remarkable place in the north of Thailand called Phrae to meet a group of eight Thai makers, Vad from Flow Jewellery, Joke from Homlom Studio, Jade from Jetsada Studio, Jaum from PATAPiAN, Pin from Pin Metal Life, Piboon from Plural Designs, Match from Thaniya and Vassana Saima.  We were hosted by the Kaewwanna Indigo Studio, and the hospitality of Krai and his team made us all immediately at home. It was a truly magical time.

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There is a such an enormous team of great people that helped bring this project to life and particular thanks go to Pamela Conacher and Helen Voce, Jay, Kendall, Aom and Nu from British Council, Su, Pom, Sudarat and Aom from SACICT, Simon our fantastic photographer and film maker, as well as all the artists, designers and makers in Phrae who looked after us like we were family.

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I could talk a lot about what we did, but I think Simon’s photographs tell the story so well that I’m just going to let them speak.

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So we all shared things that we knew, learned a lot of new stuff and spoke a lot with our hands.  The 4 workshop days spent together were just the beginning, so what’s next?

In March there were two exhibitions in Thailand.  The first one was at The Ginger Bread House Gallery in Phrae which shared the collaboration and experimentation process and showed the work in progress samples.  The International Innovative Craft Fair in Bangkok, provided the Thai makers with an opportunity to talk about the exchange process but also to showcase the new work they had all developed as a direct result of the workshop.

Back in Scotland we are preparing for a really exciting programme of activities running from 9th to 22nd May 2016.  A group of the Thai makers will be coming over to the UK, firstly to visit Edinburgh and then to travel on to take part in the London Design Festival at Clerkenwell.

In Edinburgh our programme is all based around an interactive exhibition at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, designed by London based Studio Hato, we will show the work in progress samples and a stunningly beautiful film by Simon Mills which documents the exchange experience in Phrae. We  will also be showing new work by both the Scottish and Thai designer and makers, and sharing their fascinating new experiments with materials, making processes and the bringing together of traditional craft making techniques and contemporary design.


These beautiful photographs are from Sam’s indigo tweed experiments, the ultimate combination of Scottish and Thai craft cultures.


To accompany the exhibition we have a programme of workshops and talks, free to attend and open to the public.

Workshop Programme

Saturday 14th May

10.30am-12.00 noon  Fibre Artist Anna King  

Using plain and indigo-dyed paper Anna will show you how to make origami envelopes and other simple folded structures. Use the envelopes to hold small cards with messages and secrets.

2.00pm -3.30pm  Jeweller Naomi Mcintosh

Using a variety of rolling, folding and tearing techniques Naomi will show you how to make      sculptural jewellery and beads using natural indigo-dyed paper.

Sunday May 15th

10.30am-12.00 noon Textile Designer and Weaver Sam Goates

Using a variety of textile weaving techniques, Sam will show you how to use contrasting colours to create interesting woven patterns.

2.00pm – 3.30pm  Ceramic Artist Lorna Fraser

Using techniques that she uses in her ceramic work, Lorna will show you how to make small pictures from nature using a simple process of printing leaves onto indigo-dyed paper.

20160109 Scottish Thai Design Exchange 095Saturday May 21st

2.00pm – 4.00pm

Basket weaving with Varni Southern Wickery, Thailand

Indigo Dyeing with Kaewwanna Indigo Studios, Thailand

Sunday May 22nd

10.30am-12.00 noon Bamboo Weaving with Patapian Studios and Vassana Saima, Thailand

2.00pm – 3.30pm Indigo Dyeing with Homlom Studios, Thailand 

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WuttikaiTalk –  New for Old Creative Social Entrepreneurs in Thailand

Lecture Theatre RBGE, 20a Inverleith Row, Edinburgh EH3 5LR

11.00am -12.30pm

Many craft businesses in Thailand are social enterprises who work with large communities of makers and craftspeople, with the aim of preserving craft skills and cultural and environmental heritage as well generating sustainable, environmentally conscious livelihoods for those communities. As part of the exchange programme we have invited these makers and business owners to share their stories and inspirational journeys.   You will hear from Kaewwanna Indigo Studios and Varni Southern Wickery.

The New for Old Programme, created and supported by The British Council and SACICT (The Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand) has been running in Thailand since 2014 and we have invited Andrew Glass, Director of British Council Thailand, Saengrawee Singhawiboon, Manager, Product Development and Innovative Crafts, SACICT, Patcharawee Tunprawat, Head of Arts, British Council Thailand, and Carol Sinclair, Project Curator to share the background to and practical details about this exciting project.

The talk is free to attend, but places should be booked through the Eventbrite site here

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VARNI Wicker studio shot

Growing Pains – a workshop to help grow your business

I’m just back from Caithness, a stunningly beautiful part of Scotland made all the better by the endless sunshine we enjoyed.  So all the more impressive that a group of local craft practitioners came indoors to Caithness Horizons in Thurso to talk about growing their businesses.  And a wonderfully enthusiastic and responsive group they were too, enjoying the opportunity to share the joys and challenges of being a successful entrepreneur.

Sinclair Bay, Caithness
Sinclair Bay, Caithness

What growing your business means is highly individual and in the workshop we discussed the ambitions and challenges of each participant.  We explored the shape of their business and discussed the skills and resources required to realise or change that shape.  In developing their own individual growth plans the participants identified their own next steps. Most popular were the plans to keep a diary of time spent on each business activity and then use a cashflow to explore the financial implications of that activity.  We also discussed a variety of different ways to get help and support to grow.

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Beautiful installation by Anna Garforth who writes in moss.

All our discussions were brought into perfect focus by our guest speaker, Orkney based knitwear designer Hilary Grant, who generously shared her own business journey and offered practical tips on managing the process of growth.

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Growing Pains is a workshop developed and delivered by the professional partnership, Sinclair Wilson & Voce.  I am the Sinclair Wilson part and my colleague Helen Voce is the Voce part.  Working with Helen is an absolute joy and we have collaborated for many years on a number of different projects to support creative practitioners and businesses to clarify and achieve their ambitions.  This project was realised and supported by emergents who nurture creative talent and careers in the Highlands.  Many thanks to the wonderful team of Pamela Conacher and Avril Souter, who are also a joy to work with.  Basically this was a dream project !

Sinclair Wilson &VoceEmergents logo - black trans (1)

Add Caol Ruadh To Your To Do List

If you haven’t yet visited Caol Ruadh (pronounced Col Ru) Sculpture Park in Kyles of Bute, make sure you add it to your to do list immediately.  It is simply the most atmospheric and beguiling place, and well worth the journey.  It is tucked away, but that is actually what is so irresistible and magical about it.  It opens on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th May 2015, 2-5pm, in conjunction with Colintraive Scottish Open Gardens Weekend, and is then open to the public from Thursday 28th May until 30th September.  And if you have already been, go back, it’s different every time.

Caol Ruadh is owned by Karen Scotland and run with great passion and enthusiasm by Karen and her business partner Anne Edmonds. Each summer season they invite a group of artists to show their work in one of the many indoor and outdoor locations throughout the gardens, and as landscape architects the space they have created is a perfect backdrop. Previous exhibitors include Hans Clausen, Duncan Robertson, Andrea Geile, Kevin Dagg, Emma Herman-Smith and Illona Morrice.

 The 2015 Summer Show at Caol Ruadh

Lorna Fraser
One of Caol Ruadh’s regular exhibitors is ceramics artist Lorna Fraser.  Her botanical forms have been seen in a variety of different spots throughout the garden and are so at home that you would be forgiven for thinking they had always been there.

Wall of Seedlings
   Wall of Seedlings, 2014 installation at Caol Ruadh by Lorna Fraser

However this year Lorna’s work is in a more unexpected venue, the Summerhouse.  Still is  a ghostly, apparition like garden shed full of porcelain seedlings.  It invokes memories of days gone by and the happy, hazy days of summer.  The soft, glowing light emanating from the shed seems to both give the reassuring heat of summer while also creating an eerie other worldly effect.  Simultaneously comforting and disconcerting.

Lorna Photo 10-04-2015 15 18 19 Still, porcelain installation by Lorna Fraser

I was delighted to be invited to exhibit my own art work this year at Caol Ruadh in the Apple House, a beautiful little building which was initially used to store the fruit grown on the estate.  It is now a perfect installation space with dark wooden interiors and light filled window spaces and gave a wonderful backdrop for my work.

IMG_1013IMG_1003IMG_1001The Apple House and details of Adrift, a porcelain work by Carol Sinclair.

Drifts explores the importance of memory and its role in defining who we are.  Delicate and fragile fragments of translucent white porcelain are used to express the complexity of our personal connections, and seek to balance what is present with the random absences that are created by time. Drifts presents pieces that are intended to encourage contemplation and offer the viewer a moment of calm reflection.  Each of the 3 pieces which comprise the installation in the Apple House use light in different ways to accentuate shadows, emphasise connections and allow the viewer to draw their own interpretation from the abstract shapes.

IMG_0989Drifting Thoughts, framed porcelain works by Carol Sinclair

Caol Ruadh is open 28th May to 30th Sept 2015, Thurs to Sun & Bank Holidays 11am – 6pm
Please note that it is closed on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday by appointment only
Admission : Adults £5, children under 16 free
Dogs welcome on a lead.

For full details on how to find the Sculpture Park check out the website or email

First Toot to James Lumsden

James Lumsden is a colour magician.  His paintings are painstakingly built up, layer by layer, to create rich, deep and luminescent tones that instantly capture your attention and draw your eye into the canvas.  As you contemplate the first intense wave of colour you begin to realise that there are other, often unexpected shades lurking beneath, drawing your eye even further into the work.  The illusion that James so cleverly creates is that a decidedly 2 dimensional surface can have a transfixing 3 dimensional pull.

Contrapuntal (3.14)

Contrapuntal (3.14), acrylic on canvas

Contrapuntal (4.14)

Reflex (1), acrylic on canvas

I can personally testify to the transfixing qualities of James paintings because I finally invested last year, after many years of admiring them and trying to decide on my favourite colour combination.  In the end I couldn’t actually make my mind up, so finally bought two paintings!  And I am very happy with them, and they truly add light and vibrancy to the room.  And just when you think you have remembered all the shades and shapes, the light changes and you see another layer and another colour.


Contrapuntal (8.16), acrylic on canvas

So, apart from he fact that I am a great admirer, and modest collector of James work, the other reason I wanted to give him my first Toot is that he very kindly agreed to let me use images of his paintings for my first blog.  Thank you James!

Sarah Myerscough Gallery, London, 2015

Reflex, recent exhibition at Sarah Myerscough Gallery

So where can you find this amazing work? James Lumsden’s work is available through the Sarah Myerscough Gallery in London and the Paul Kuhn Gallery in Calgary, Canada. For further information you can contact James directly at or his own blog

Invest now, you know you want to.

And off we go………

Creative Toot

Carol Sinclair believes in the power of all things creative and has a particular passion for social enterprises and businesses with soul. Creative Toot was set up to talk about the people, ideas and things that matter.

Carol’s Profile

With 25 years of experience in delivering business support, training and project management for a range of creative organisations,  Carol has met inspiring creators, innovators and researchers.  Creative Toot provides an opportunity to highlight the work of these individuals, organisations and businesses, so that we can all be inspired.

Carol is a ceramic artist, a ceramics graduate of Grays School of Art in Aberdeen, and has extensive experience of running her own studio and gallery in Edinburgh. She is also a keen supporter of artist led initiatives, a founder member of Design-Ed, previously a Director of Applied Arts Scotland and has just joined the gallery committee of Patriothall. She is currently a director of Really Interesting Objects CIC and Poorboy Theatre Company, and an adviser with Applied Arts Scotland and Emergents. Clients include Cultural Enterprise Office, Starter for Six, British Council, Craft Scotland, Scottish Arts Council, Glasgow School of Art, Edinburgh College of Art, Duncan of Jordanstone and Queen Margaret University.

Carol undertakes projects through her consultancy, Sinclair Wilson Ltd, and is always happy to talk about interesting possibilities. Email