10th March 2020

Our 2020 Cockpit Effect Impact Report features a series of case studies to illustrate the diversity of makers, their practices and business journeys at Cockpit Arts. Over the coming weeks we’ll share these with you.

Paper marbler Lucy McGrath has gone from apprenticing at Cockpit to becoming a leading voice for this heritage craft in the UK

Lucy McGrath practises traditional paper marbling, with a contemporary twist. Floating different shades of paint on water, she manipulates the colours before laying paper on top to create fluid, expressive patterns.

For the past two years, Cockpit Arts has funded Lucy to employ an apprentice, Eloïse, which means she has come full circle from when she first arrived at the studios on a placement herself for textile designer Jen Rowland in 2011, before applying for her own space in 2016. “I ended up working for her for nearly five years,” she says. “Without that incredible experience I don’t think I would have had the guts to start Marmor Paperie.”

Today, Lucy produces marbled notebooks and giftware, as well as taking on commissions from such brands as Adidas and Molton Brown and running workshops to share this heritage craft with a wider audience. But business wasn’t something that came naturally: everything from keeping up with the pace of demand to starting to work with manufacturers to balancing creative production with marketing, PR, admin and bookkeeping seemed daunting. “I like to live in the moment so I was never very good at making five or 10-year career plans,” she says. “I knew I wanted to make beautiful things and share them with others and didn’t think too far beyond that.”

During her time at Cockpit, workshops and one-to-one coaching have enhanced Lucy’s practical skills, and created room for her to grow into a leading voice for marbling in the UK, publishing a book on the subject and attending the All Parliamentary Group for Craft at the Houses of Parliament. “But best of all are the intangible benefits – the confidence in myself and what I am doing, and the reassurance that there is a tight-knit community of people in a similar position that I can call on for advice and kinship when faced with difficult moments,” she says.

Cockpit Effect Impact Report 2020


Photos: James Winspear