Next month, Cockpit Arts will be open over two weekends for a midsummer celebration. Visitors can have a glimpse behind the studio doors for a chance to buy direct from London’s best independent makers, alongside demonstrations, workshops and a secret postcard sale. Over 140 different craftspeople will be exhibiting their work in the studios, which are located in Holborn, at the heart of Bloomsbury and in the creative South East London neighbourhood of Deptford. Open Studios is the only time Cockpit Arts is open to the public, making this an exclusive opportunity to see inside the buildings as well as meet and buy direct from some of the best makers in London - emerging and established.
One of the Deptford exhibitors is Alison Dickens, who makes organic, sculptural forms in willow from Somerset and delicate plaited vessels in bark and other plant materials harvested from gardens and roundabouts. Her work is mainly contemporary but calls on a rich and varied craft tradition. She is drawn to sculptural forms, which for her echo the high curves and low curves of spare open landscapes: the Yorkshire Wolds and Dales, Norfolk and Suffolk coasts, estuaries and tidal mudflats; and the forms and patterns made by water, wind and wave.
Alison found basket-making after a career in urban regeneration and loved it instantly. She had never thought of making the objects she’d been seeing, buying and admiring on her travels. And baskets in this country had become for her, as for many people, invisible – ubiquitous holders of stuff. She is the winner of the Cockpit Arts/ The Worshipful Company of Basketmakers' Award 2019; and has exhibited at Craft Central, the Crypt Gallery, Kindred Studios and the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers' 450th Anniversary Fair.