Artist profile - Evelyn Sinclair, Kendal
- Credit: Sandy Kitching
Beatrix Potter helped Kendal artist Evelyn Sinclair establish herself and now she’s bagged a quirky corner of the market WORDS BY MIKE GLOVER PHOTOGRAPHY BY SANDY KITCHING
Chances are you will know the work of designer, illustrator and artist Evelyn Sinclair, even if you don’t know her name – yet.
For more than 20 years she has been producing illustrations for everything from food and cosmetic packaging, to interpretation panels, exhibitions and countless logos, leaflets and brochures. Now, her illustrations and fine art creations are getting her noticed across the country, winning awards and keeping her busier than ever.
A student of Glasgow School of Art, who graduated with a first class honours degree, Evelyn started her career in her home city, before moving to the Lake District in her mid 20s having visited the area on family holidays all her life.
After working for Lakes design companies for ten years she struck out on her own and soon secured a contract creating logos, brochures and illustrated maps for The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction in Bowness-in-Windermere. She is still helping them another 15 years on.
She also created the logo, leaflets and signage for the musical ‘Where is Peter Rabbit?’
Admitting to not know much about Beatrix Potter when she started, Evelyn now says has huge respect for the children’s author and what she achieved. ‘She was so ahead of her time and a great radical role model,’ she says.
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When the National Trust celebrated Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday last year, they set up awards to recognise businesses which had a similar ethos to the author – demonstrating their passion for the region, contributing to the area and its communities, and putting something back directly to support the Lake District.
Evelyn had recently started work on sticker books for publisher David Felton at Staveley-based Inspired by Lakeland. In February 2017 they were invited to the awards ceremony and won the inaugural Beatrix Potter Community Business Award for the Lake District Sticker Book project.
The book comprises four fold-out scenes and sheets of animal stickers to put into the appropriate environments. They are aimed at children, but also an activity to be done with parents or grandparents.
‘I wanted to turn the books into a vehicle for encouraging children to love wildlife really early – to inspire them and make them smile,’ says Evelyn.
The four scenes in the Lake District book are woodland, lake, farm and fell, and the books have proved so popular that versions for Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Cotswolds have followed.
But Evelyn never neglects the third string to her bow, the fine art. ‘In recent years I have wanted to develop my fine art skills more. I find it a magic way to let go of life’s worries.
‘When I draw, I become entirely consumed with the activity and find a calmer head-place,’ she says, hence the calming blue hue which dominates her ‘Meditation’ series of inky ladies, which were selected to feature in the C-Art ‘Artist of the Year’ exhibitions at Rheged, near Penrith, in 2015 and 2016.
Now that distinct style has led her to a new phase, drawing musicians in a series of multiple images which give the impression they are moving on the canvas.
‘I can see the same meditative state of intensity in the musicians when they play as I have when I am drawing.
‘I want to reflect their passion in what they do,’ added Evelyn who now has ideas about extending this technique to other visual artists, like dancers.
Evelyn often demonstrates an ability to marry her painting skills with a love of words.
When asked to take part in an exhibition entitled the Auld Grey Town, a phrase used to describe Kendal where she now lives, she wanted to do something different.
With there being so many tea-rooms in Kendal she thought of painting with tea. ‘Then I thought “why not paint on tea”,’ she says.
So now she produces miniature paintings on tea-bags. The first showing Kendal Town Hall she called Earl Grey Town. The man who bought it asked for a tea-bag decorated with a skull, so she produced ‘Dying for a Cuppa’.
‘By then I was on a roll. I have got more ideas than I can produce,’ she says, although a look at her website will show others, like Ruskin’s Brew, representing the famous landscape in Kirkby Lonsdale, or Tea Rex with the head of a dinosaur.
‘With all my illustrations I like to do things that make people smile. Whether it is a child’s activity book or a tea-bag, I like to think of the smile on the face of the viewer,’ she adds, with a smile, of course.