It has just gone 3pm last Sunday and it seemed like night was already beginning to set-in as I made my way from the DLR station, down an unassuming alleyway in the heart of Deptford, South London and into a re-purposed office-like block that is the home of the Deptford branch of Cockpit Arts.
Feeling just a little bit like Alice on a journey of discovery and also a little bit like I was back at high school in the 1960′s municipal-style building, I began to explore the higgledy-piggledy layout of the studios themselves.
Even when in the heart of the building, the makers’ studios don’t reveal themselves straight away. They are a series of smallish rooms, leading off nondescript corridors. Just like in the best adventure stories, glimpses of some of the wonders that lie ahead can be seen; in this case through internal windows into the studios where you can get a sense of some of the work going on inside.
Above, an example of a window into a studio – this one has been thoughtfully styled by Jen Rowland maker of intricately illustrated homeware.
It was busy when I arrived fairly late on the Sunday afternoon and because you had to go right into each room to see what was happening, it was a very intimate experience and a real opportunity to meet makers, actually feel the materials they use and see up-close the tools they work with.
Meeting the person who has made something and through seeing where they work, understanding a bit of how it was made, really does add another dimension to the work itself and can make it even more beautiful or precious than it would have been otherwise.
It was particularly wonderful to see the workspace of the award-winning maker Eleanor Lakelin, whose wooden sculptural works are so beautifully made and use their material in such an original way.
Above, Eleanor Lakelin’s studio space and some examples of her work.
One of the most interesting spaces belongs to textile designer Charlotte Grierson whose huge loom dominates her studio, along with the very evocative display of hundreds of different coloured threads, below. It would have been lovely to see the loom in action!
A display of Charlotte Grierson’s hand-woven textiles and her studio space
Three further weaver’s work stood out for us at the studios. The delicate yet modern lampshades by Josefin Landalv are woven with paper yarn. They diffuse the light beautifully and have a great textural quality that makes you want to reach out and touch them!
Rowenna Mason’s vibrant, modern twist on a traditional woven cushions fuse bold geometrics with a richness and sense of heritage that comes from the rough texture of the material. We definitely want some to brighten up our homes and see us through the dark winter days ahead!
Finally, we were drawn to the luxury of the subtle patterns and finely woven silk used to make Laura’s Adburgham’s textiles. Simple, understated, but beautifully crafted.
British craft is alive and well and can be found in the most unlikely looking places. If you get a chance to visit an open studio, and spend some time discovering makers who use true craftsmanship to create beautiful and unique pieces, we can highly recommend it!