Designer-makers at Cockpit Arts are regularly featured in leading exhibitions, installations and projects. Get the low down here.

April / May 2015

London Craft Week – Cockpit Arts makers at Collect

As part of Collect 2015 at the Saatchi Gallery, Cockpit Arts’ makers Rita Parniczky and Katrin Spranger are both exhibiting in the Collect Open section. Collect Open, whose predecessor Project Space has been a rich addition to the fair since 2011, encourages artists to show work which challenges traditional perceptions of craft and design.


Katrin is featured in conversation with Crafts Magazine deputy editor on Monday 11 May  as part of the Gallery Sessions but advanced booking is essential if you’d like to attend.  In 2014, the Arts Foundation and the Clothworkers’ Foundation launched a new Materials Innovation Fellowship to embrace the ever-increasing cross-over between art, design, engineering, and craft. 2015 winner Sarat Babu and two fellow nominees, Cockpit Arts’ Rita Parnizcky and Berit Greinke will challenge the way that materials are seen now and in the future. From the view that the modern notion of materials is dead to challenging the limits through woven materials and electromagnetic textiles, these exciting emerging innovators will reveal their latest work.


On Saturday 9 May in the Collect Events space, Crafts Council innovation curator Karen Gaskill explores, with Cockpit Arts’ glass artist Shelley James, ceramist Martin Bodilsen Kaldahl and weaver Monika Žaltauskaite-Grašiene, how new technology enhances their practice.


November / December News 2014

Selfridges’ Christmas Windows: Emma Yeo

Milliner Emma Yeo has much to celebrate this Christmas. Since securing a studio space at Cockpit Arts with help from our Setting Up Bursary, she has won Emerging Designer at the WGSN Global Fashion Awards and was selected by the British Fashion Council and Stephen Jones to join Headonism. She has designed hats for fashion icons such as Lady Gaga and Vogues’ Anna Dello Russo, and has been invited by Italian Vogue to show her work at Milan Fashion Week 2015.

She was recently approached by Selfridges to design a series of headpieces for their iconic Christmas window displays, a showcase that will expose her talents to the millions of shoppers who descend on central London in the run up to Christmas. We popped into Emma’s Deptford studio as she was putting the finishing touches to the headpieces.

Cockpit Arts: How were you asked to be part of Selfridges’ Christmas windows?

Emma Yeo: I was contacted by Selfridges’ Windows Styling Manager, Louise Moran. I assumed it was because I had been involved in a previous Selfridges window display three years ago, but when we met, I was amazed to discover Louise had simply found my work online!

CA: We’d assumed it was because of your involvement with the British Fashion Council and Stephen Jones’ Headonism, which showcases the cream of British millinery talent.

EY: Apparently not. Selfridges wanted independent artists and designers to be part of their Christmas displays. I think they’re really good at promoting and supporting new talent, rather than doing it all in house. My name appears in the window next to my designs, so it’s wonderful exposure for me.

CA: So what was the brief?

EY: The theme for this year’s Christmas windows is fairy tales with a surreal twist. A lot of my work is inspired by nature – moths, birds, flowers. It sits within the natural world, but also has parallels with architecture. There is an edgy, futuristic aspect to my work and I think that’s what Louise really liked about my designs.

CA: How did this work in practice?

EY: The particular window that I’m involved in tells the story of the Golden Goose. It depicts a group of fairy tale folk seated at a woodland feast. I was asked to design headpieces loosely inspired by woodland animals. I chose to base them on a rabbit, deer, fox and bird. I did a series of sketches and took them to Louise for a round-table discussion to see what would be feasible. The mannequins used in the display are a mint green colour, so I suggested a gold glitter flocked finish for the headpieces.


CA: How do you make your headpieces?

EY: I use different processes depending on the materials. The fine, laser-cut wood is my signature style, but I also use acid etching, hand cutting and paper sculpting and I am increasingly working in brass. I make every piece myself and the whole process is amazingly organic. Commissioned pieces demand a certain leap of faith when working with the client to create something bespoke which cannot be fully realised and tried on until the end stage.
As these pieces were designed and made for a static display, I was able to be a bit more experimental with the materials I used. Most of the pieces are totally wearable, but two incorporate paper and card so are really just for this display.

CA: What’s next for you?

EY: I’m currently working on my SS15 collection, which will be ready for February as part of Headonism. I design seasonally, and my work sits between the craft and art markets, as well as fashion. I trained in multi-media textiles before doing my MA in jewellery design at Central St Martins. I’m fascinated by the relationship between objects and the body. Many of my pieces are a cross over between jewellery, hats and sculpture because that’s my story; that’s where I come from.

Emma’s headpieces will be on display throughout the Christmas period at Selfridges & Co, 400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB.
Meet Emma Yeo at Deptford Open Studios from 5-7 December.

July / August News 2014

BeatWoven meets Festival of Love

It has been a busy few months for digital textile artist Nadia-Anne Ricketts, as her (soon to be officially launched) company BeatWoven is already in hot demand! Nadia has been specially commissioned by Southbank Centre to create a piece of woven art for their Festival of Love and has just launched an exclusive collection for their Festival Terrace Shop. We got the low down on the collaboration from Nadia and Adam Thow, Head of Retail and Buying for Southbank Centre.


One of our 2012 Cockpit Arts / The Clothworkers’ Foundation Award winners, Nadia’s work marries cutting edge technology with traditional craft skills. She translates the sound patterns made by a piece of music, using specially designed BeatWoven audio technology, into a traditional woven work of art. The harmonious fusion of these two mediums is very important to Nadia who explains ‘One of my aspirations for BeatWoven is to introduce a fresh identity to weaving, showing that it can be fun and exciting, as well as a craft that holds an abundance of heritage and skill; thus helping to keep the weaving industry at the forefront of British Design’.

Nadia was commissioned to create a tapestry for the Festival of Love, inspired by Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto Number 2, which is most famous for featuring in the love story ‘Brief Encounter’. The Rachmaninov Tapestry will be hung in the Royal Festival Hall where the film will be screened with a live score performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The commission also coincides with an exclusive range of BeatWoven products based on the tapestry including sumptuous cushions, scarves and collectible art pieces available to buy from the Festival Terrace Shop and online at


Adam Thow explains why Nadia was the perfect choice for the collaboration:

‘Design has been an important part of the work of Southbank Centre since its inception in 1951 for the Festival of Britain. The Royal Festival Hall’s signature Net & Ball carpet is a visual stylisation of a sound wave and Nadia’s work is the 21st Century equivalent of this. I felt her embracing of technology, strong visual signatures and traditional craft was a perfect addition to Southbank Centre’s design legacy. Her enthusiasm for music shone through from the first meeting and she took the brief and produced a truly beautiful and unique range.’

Nadia has many more exciting projects in the pipeline this year with the official launch of BeatWoven taking place at the London Design Festival as well as a brand new commission especially for Decorex International, which will be on display at Syon Park in September.

The Rachmaninov Tapestry will be on display in the new Southbank Centre Members Bar in the Royal Festival Hall. Festival of Love runs from 28 June – 31 August at Southbank Centre. For more information, visit their website here >

May / June News 2014

Francisca Prieto: Underlined Exhibition Interview

In the lead up to her latest solo exhibition, ‘Underlined’ at the Jaggedart Gallery in London, we popped in to Francisca’s studio to ask her some questions about her eight new compositions in paper.

Francisca has consistently produced highly innovative and boundary breaking works that have excited visitors to shows such as the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Her ‘Between Folds’ series, using paper to create three dimensional wall hangings, blurs the viewers perception of what the term art can mean.


In ‘Underlined’ Francisca invites us to put form first, exposing the value of simplicity, structure and the endless expressions that line can take. After considering the form, the viewer is then drawn in to understand the meaning of the materials used, which range from nineteenth century testaments and mathematical books, to old printed receipts. These transient and disposable materials highlight the idea within Francisca’s work of revealing the forgotten.

CA: Forgotten ephemera features heavily in your work and in this exhibition, what do these transient items mean to you?

FP: I am very interested in ephemera because it has a story to tell about a period of time past, but it is probably the fragility of its existence which interests me the most as they are not meant to last. An old piece of paper tends to go unnoticed, so I like taking it out of its context, bringing together collections and placing them in a way that I can highlight particular details. They can now be appreciated – turned it into something significant.

‘Composition No.5: two opposite diagonal lines’ has been created out of a collection of old ledger books. I used my collection of old receipts to create ‘Composition No.6: a horizontal and a vertical line’, and even though ‘Composition No.2: one horizontal line’  is very simple, I created it with an old will and I coloured the edges of red, to highlight its profound connotation. Each material has been chosen to highlight the meaning associated with composition of that line.


CA: The theme of the ‘line’ is the focus of this exhibition, why did you choose this theme?

FP: Last year I lost my father and he was so important to me that it felt as if I had lost my soul. I was trying to make sense of things again by exploring the simplest of forms, which to me is the line; only to discover that there is nothing simple about it – it is always charged with meaning. In a series of eight compositions I explored the line and the different meanings that we attribute to this minimal element.

CA: Do you view your works as mathematical constructions or artistic wall sculptures?

FP: I see my work as art created by applying mathematical principles. I have always been interested in structures, mathematics and systems and in my artworks I bring these three interests together.

CA: What is your next big project for 2014?

FP: I have a massive project ahead, as I am trying to bring together all the artworks from the ‘Between Folds’ series into a book. I have also been invited to create a piece for an exhibition at The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Scotland: ‘As Ithers See Us. 10 May – 21 September.

UNDERLINED will be running from the 29 May- 21 June at Jaggedart Gallery.
Jaggedart Gallery, 28 A Devonshire Street, London, W1G 6PS
Opening Times: Wednesday – Friday: 11 – 6pm, Saturday: 11 – 2pm. Other times can be made by appointment.

March / April News 2014

Shelley James: The Face of Contemporary British Glass Making

Having just completed her PhD at the Royal College of Art and been selected for the Jerwood Makers Open 2014, Cockpit Arts newcomer Shelley James is in big demand. We went to meet her at the installation of her latest work at The Hospital Club to find out more.

In Between the Lines, Shelley is showcasing a wide breadth of innovative glass techniques – from her distinctive Matrix series of glass forms, new installation pieces to glass prints. Incorporating elements of performance, interaction and exploration, this provides a captivating show.  The show’s curation was a ‘collaborative process’ between Shelley and Ali Hillman, the Head of Creative Projects at The Hospital Club.


Shelley cites contemporary optics and the discoveries of 11th century scientist Ibn Al Haytham’s as her inspirations. She has created works which use glass and different volumes of water to distort the viewer’s eye and create unique visual illusions. The installation entitled Intervals positioned in the window took Shelley four days to install and is compiled of two rows of thin, long glass tubes, one in front of the other, containing strips of audio and visual tape. Intervals plays on the idea of ‘creating a stage’ an ongoing theme in Shelley’s work, which she expresses has ‘many performance elements’.  The open space at the Club is the perfect setting as when viewed from the street the installation creates an intriguing illusion of depth.

Shelley explains that the talk accompanying Between the Lines, which will be held at the Club on 13 March, was her own idea and an opportunity to do something different and approach her personal ‘heroes,’ such as the neuroscientist Professor Geraint Rees and the art historian Martin Kemp.  The main question Shelley is posing in the discussion is ‘how can I use what I’ve done to build something which will go on?’ Shelley’s idea of continuing this exhibition in alternative ways is further proved by her latest collaboration with British filmmaker Nicky Hamlyn, who she will be curating an evening of films with at the Club, to ‘explore pattern and the interactivity of art’.


Shelley also has a talk at the RCA in the pipeline and a show at The Museum of the History of Science gallery this month too and in July her work for the Jerwood Makers Open 2014 will be on show at the Jerwood Space in London. She is proposing to ‘design a work with the shadow in mind, rather than the object,’ thus playing with ‘particular symmetrical light rhythms’.  Shelley is constantly progressing current perceptions of contemporary glass making as an art form as well as a craft. It seems that Shelley’s work is growing in style and has already seen her become firmly placed her at the forefront of contemporary British glass making.

Between the Lines is on show at The Hospital Club until 19 April and is free admission.
Open Hours:  Monday to Friday 8am – 2am, Saturday 11am – 2am
Address: The Hospital Club, 24, Endell Street, London, WC2H 9HQ.

For more details about the artist talk click here >
Visit Shelley at our Summer Open Studios in Deptford from the 13-15 June, in Studio 200.

Shelley’s work is also currently on display at the Guy’s Gordon Museum campus near London Bridge.

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