High Flyers

A bespoke programme for established designer makers


high // flyers is a new 9-month bespoke programme of individual support for established designer makers living and working in the Highlands & Islands or Moray who are ambitious and keen to grow their businesses.

We had an open call for designers to apply for this programme in Nov & Dec 2016 and we are pleased to announce the details of the five Highlands and Islands designers makers who have been awarded a place on this programme. 

Find out more about each designer here: 

Diggory Brown

Diggory Brown

Netty Sopata founded ‘Diggory Brown’ as a bespoke Kiltmaking business in 2008. Located on The Isle of Lewis in The Outer Hebrides of fullsizerenderScotland, Diggory Brown currently specialises in applying traditional kilt making techniques to create unique and contemporary kilts, garments and accessories on a bespoke level and for clients within the fashion industry. 

Diggory Brown designs focus on using locally woven cloth and Netty is currently working towards using the fleeces from her family’s flock of Hebridean Sheep to create her next collection. 

In 2015 Diggory Brown (in partnership  with Uist Wool)  was one of six Scottish based designers to be awarded The Zero Waste Scotland Circular Economy Apparel Fund  to research and develop a new textile and product(s) that would demonstrate the principles of the circular economy and closed loop cycle of production. The SYnergy 2016 collection is the result of this project.




Scottish jewellery designer & silversmith Eileen Gatt has been designing and making jewellery for over 20 years.

Based in the picturesque Black Isle in the Scottish Highlands, Eileen is fascinated by the mystical interaction between people and the sea, and often uses traditional customs and superstitions as starting points for her designs. Her whimsical yet sophisticated creations evoke a sense of nostalgia, and allow the wearer to create their own sense of attachment and meaning.  Eileen also loves to inject a little humour where possible!

 In her early career when Eileen won a Royal Academy scholarship to work with Inuit stone carvers in Alaska, and experience which has fuelled her fascination with the Arctic ever since. Having collaborated with storytellers from both Scotland and North America, Eileen draws her inspiration from the Polar wilderness and Inuit culture, Scottish folklore and landscapes, and the small fishing communities found along Scotland’s East Coast.

 Inspired by generations past, to be cherished by generations to come.



Ultima Thule - Lucy Woodley

Ultima Thule – Lucy Woodley

Jeweller Lucy Woodley spent her childhood in a small highland fishing village. The sea and its creatures were a constant source of 2013-06-23-18-22-35inspiration in her early work. Lucy’s work evolved from the sea to the land to incorporate the strong shapes of oak leaves and honesty seeds realised in silver with 18ct gold detail. These pieces were housed on mixed medium wall pieces which echoed the design of the jewellery. This created a whole new decorative object, extending the function of the work, giving the jewellery a home when it’s not worn and leaving a beautiful artwork when it is.

Her work is now moving back towards the sea in the form of small sculptural works in silver and other materials looking at migration past and present.



Melanie Muir was born in Scotland but spent part of her early life overseas. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in Design from Glasgow School of Art. After time spent in haute couture sales roles in London, she moved to Australia, where she continued her retail career in department stores, moving into sales and marketing. She became the Marketing Manager of the largest fashion retail centre in Brisbane and then became the Marketing Communications Manager for a major five star resort, before leaving to form her own marketing communications consultancy in Queensland.

Melanie Muir

Melanie Muir

When she returned to Scotland in the mid 1990’s, Melanie opened Nairn Antiques, a boutique shop which included fine crafts. When she sold the business, it was to work as a professional china restorer.

In 2009 Melanie returned to a more directly creative path as a maker. In a sense, she was starting over from scratch, in her late forties, but as she says, “It is never too late to become who you might have been!”. From her base in Nairn, she began life as a fledgling maker and pioneer in polymer and over the last few years has built a reputation as an innovative jewellery designer, winning awards and gaining increasing recognition for her work.

Over the last few years, she has taken Gold (twice), Silver and Bronze in her category in the international “Bead Dreams” competition in the USA. She won five out of six categories and was the overall winner in the International Polymer Clay Association awards in 2012. Melanie was also a Silver Award winner in the jewellery category of the UK Craft & Design awards. Her work has been exhibited in numerous shows and exhibitions throughout the UK.

She is in great demand as an international teacher. Her online classes are global bestsellers. She has created her own ranges of tools to use with different craft mediums and also provides creative coaching and mentoring for fellow makers and creatives, with her “Cultivating Creative Excellence™” programme. In November 2014 she was selected to exhibit and teach at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh as part of Craft Scotland’s “Meet Your Maker” programme. In 2015 and 2016 her work was selected for exhibitions at the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, at SOFA Chicago (with Craft Scotland), at ‘Bijoux’ West Palm Beach, USA and at the London Design Fair (with Craft Scotland/Emergents).


SevenPointer Neckpiece

SevenPointer Neckpiece

Before Patricia came to live in the Highlands in 2003 she had been trained as a trade goldsmith and then as designer for gemstones and jewellery in Germany and in the Glass Department at Edinburgh College of Art. Patricia had also briefly visited Caithness through a residency at North Lands Creative Glass and had fallen in love with the place.

Patricia Niemann on the studio workbench

Patricia Niemann on the studio workbench

Her work naturally spans a number of media: Precious metals and gemstones are the most used materials, but she also works in blown and kilnformed glass, textiles, found objects and always – drawing. Despite constantly working across art forms, Patricia is passionately concerned with good craftsmanship. Most pieces are one-offs. The human body, its form, complexity and our ingrained need to adorn it, is the base of all my work. There are influences of theatre, dance and performance, anthropology, anatomy, mortuary archaeology and funerary culture, as well as medicine. The work has to do with fears concerning our body, notions of danger, drama and also humour.

Patricia’s studio-showroom is based on the dramatic coast of the Portland Estate in Berriedale, Caithness. This is an inspirational landscape rich in drama, ancient history and steeped in Highland traditions. Recent work is about red deer, notions of hunting trophies, sustainability and historic forms of adornment.




Programme and Delivery

Two male hands holding kite strings with a kite in sky at distance

The foundation of the High Flyers Programme and its delivery are six one-hour, individual, 1-2-1 sessions  with one of the Programme Facilitators, Carol Sinclair or Helen Voce, with additional specialists brought in as required. These sessions offer a chance to identify, discuss and explore the specific needs the designers have in taking their business to the next level. Sessions are informed by the Condition Check, a set of five reflective exercises that the designers  undertake on their own following an initial 1-2-1 session.

In spring 2017 each of the designers will be a guest speaker at an XpoNorth & Emergents Roadshow event in the Highlands & Islands. The designers will be guided through the content of their talk. In essence we are asking the designers to celebrate their creative business journey to date, provide an insight into how you balance their own personal well being with their creative needs and business development and to inspire event attendees to be ambitious and determined to succeed.

The final stage of the programme will be a group creative residency at Cove Park (dates TBC), where the High Flyers participants will have two days of complete escape and emersion in creative thinking and experimentation.

Further information about the Programme Schedule and Programme Facilitators can be found below.

You can also download a copy of the programme here: HIGH FLYERS PROGRAMME INFORMATION


Who is it for?

The designers on the programme are busy people who have multiple constraints and demands on their time. They have identified there needs to be a shift in how they think and go about their business, and are therefore they are looking for some additional support to reflect on the development of their business to date and plan into the future.

The following application criteria applied: 

  • You must be an established business with a minimum of 3-years trading in crafts, fashion or textiles
  • Your business must be based in the Highlands & Islands or Moray
  • You must be ambitious and keen to explore options for growing the scale or scope of your business, reach new markets and/or develop new products or services
  • You must be available to work with the Programme Facilitators for the 9-month period from January to October 2017, attending six, one-hour, individual, 1-2-1 sessions (available remotely and in person) during this time, plus a group residential event at Cove Park in October 2017
  • You must be available to be a guest speaker at an XpoNorth & Emergents Roadshow event from February to April 2017, which can be negotiated to fit around your other commitments. You will receive a speaker fee plus travel expenses.

The cost of this programme is free of charge to businesses based in the Highlands & Islands and Moray.

The selection of participants was undertaken by Pamela Conacher, Emergents / XpoNorth Crafts, Fashion and Textiles and the Programme Facilitators Carol Sinclair and Helen Voce.

Programme Schedule

December 2016 // Participants selected and paired with their Programme Facilitator

// Session 1 (remote) – Participants introduced to the Programme and the Condition Check by their Programme Facilitator

January 2017 // Participants complete Condition Check and share with their Programme Facilitator

// Participants confirmed as guest speaker at a forthcoming XpoNorth & Emergents 2017 Roadshow event

February 2017 // Session 2 (remote) – Participants review their goals with Programme Facilitator
February – April 2017 // Participant features as speaker at an XpoNorth & Emergents 2017 Roadshow event

// Session 3 (in person) – Participant with Programme Facilitator

May – September 2017 // Session 4 (remote) – Participant with Programme Facilitator

// Session 5 (remote) – Participant with Programme Facilitator

October 2017 // Residency at Cove Park, with Session 6 (in person)


Programme Facilitators


Carol Sinclair believes in the power of all things creative and has a particular passion for social enterprises and businesses with heart and soul. With 25 years of experience in delivering business support, training and project management for a range of creative organisations, clients include:

Cultural institutions – Scottish Arts Council, British Council, NESTA Educational establishments – ECA, GSA, DoJCAD, QMU, Napier Art form organisations – MG Alba, Dancebase, Craft Scotland Support agencies – Emergents, Cultural Enterprise Office, Creative Edinburgh.

A ceramic artist and graduate of Grays School of Art in Aberdeen, Carol has extensive experience of running her own studio and gallery in Edinburgh.

Carol a keen supporter of artist led initiatives, a founder member of Design-Ed and is the treasurer of the Patriothall Gallery committee. She is a director of Really Interesting Objects, Poorboy Theatre Company, a Board Member of Applied Arts Scotland and an adviser to Emergents.


Helen Voce

HELEN VOCE IMAGEHelen Voce is an independent project manager, event and programme producer in the creative industries working locally, nationally, internationally and voluntarily. She designs, facilitates and produces opportunities, initiatives and spaces in which creative practitioners, microbusinesses, projects and organisations can realise their full creative potential. Working and studying in the creative industries since 1995, Helen’s professional specialism and personal interest is contemporary craft and design.

Amongst other things, Helen is a mentor on the Crafts Council’s, Hothouse development programme for emerging makers and Glasgow Life’s Craft Makers Award, a Producer at

Cove Park, Scotland’s international artists residency centre and a facilitator on the Small is Beautiful Tashkeel Design Programme, ‘Tanween’ in Dubai. Helen has previously worked for Cultural Enterprise Office, the Victoria & Albert Museum and Dumfries & Galloway Council, which included delivery of Spring Fling, Scotland’s Premier Arts & Crafts Open Studios Event.

Helen is a postgraduate of the Royal College of Art / Victoria & Albert Museum with an MA in the History of Design: Design and Material Culture, 1650 to present, and has a BA Three Dimensional Design from Plymouth University.

@helenvoce  uk.linkedin.com/in/helenvoce


High Flyers is developed, produced and delivered by Sinclair Wilson & Voce for Emergents/XpoNorth Crafts, Fashion and Textiles.