29th August 2018
London Creative Network participants – woodworker Max Bainbridge and quilter Abigail Booth – run Forest + Found, a dual-purpose studio in east London, where they work side by side creating products that celebrate craftsmanship and natural materials. The couple met at Chelsea College of Arts, where they both studied fine art: Max made large wooden sculptures and Abigail created installations using found objects.
Combining traditional techniques with contemporary design, Max and Abigail create products that celebrate craftsmanship in the modern home. Hand stitched quilts with Japanese Sashiko thread to beautiful wooden wares from locally sourced timber – products that will be passed down from generation to generation.
Their combined output includes beautiful horse chestnut and birch pots, poplar spoons, block-printed cushions and indigo strip quilts. The pair research and design together; Booth forages for plants she can use for natural dyes in the woods where Bainbridge sources his timber.
What was the main motivation behind your application to the LCN programme?
Having taken part in the Crafts Council’s Hothouse programme we had really focussed our vision for our practice. We had formed a strong sense of identity and motivation as to how we wanted to develop going forward.
Applying for the LCN Programme with Cockpit Arts felt like the perfect next step. It provides really focussed support to strengthen certain structures and processes within running our studio practice. We really wanted to spend some time working on these practical necessities. Having a strong foundation and understanding of technical aspects of running a business maximises the time and headspace you have to focus on actually producing work in the studio.
What is the most useful advice or tip you’ve been given on the programme so far?
What we have taken from the programme so far is the importance of building strong, honest and exciting, collaborative relationships with the people we work with, whether with a gallery, another artist, an accountant or a client. Every relationship is a two way street and having face to face conversations and being able to effectively communicate ideas or ask for advice is incredibly important. Being a partnership we are used to having a back and forth dialogue with each other. Recognising the value of developing that dialogue in other working relationships has been the start of many far more interesting conversations.
Cockpit’s LCN sessions have given us a great insight into what we should be looking at in order to develop our practice sustainably. The courses are really accessible and have been led by experts who deliver very specific knowledge in different areas of business and creative development. The specificity and depth of the workshops gives a great foundation to explore each topic ourselves and really incorporate it in to what we do now and in planning for the future.
What new product, service, business system or projects are you introducing to your practice and why?
Rather than adding, it has been far more about how we can strip back and be far more focussed in the opportunities we say yes to or seek out. Through the programme we have set goals for exhibitions we would like to do, or people we would like to work with. This has helped with curating a far more targeted approach to planning the year and developing our practice in the right direction. Realising the importance of doing less but with far more integrity is a far healthier and fulfilling approach.
Planning in this way allows us to make the most of every opportunity, as well as develop stronger work. This year has been far more productive and allowed for more time to reflect and experiment. As well as allowing us to spend more time in the studio in the lead up to a show we are really excited about.
What plans do you have after participating with LCN?
We hope to finish Cockpit’s LCN programme with a far more organised and structured approach to running the business side of our studio practice. Aiming to establish a strong foundation for our business will allow us to be more targeted in pursuing the right exhibition, the most exciting artist residency or award/funding opportunity.
We’re really excited to be able to be in a position to take the time to work on larger scale projects or take part in an international residency. Having the security of being able to plan both financially and creatively for these kinds of opportunities will open up a lot more doors going forward.
Top image: installation at Collect 2018
Portrait photo by Dean Hearne