CR reviews: Makers of East London

Makers of East London is a book that celebrates the work of a plethora of carefully selected independent makers and crafts people who are dedicated to making beautiful and useful objects, right in the heart of East London. With photography by Charlotte Schreiber and text by Katie Treggiden, the book explores studios and practices to see what it takes to be a maker in a world of mass production.

Each maker creates high quality handmade and bespoke products inside East London workshops and studios. Published by Hoxton Mini Press, Makers of East London aims to ‘document that process of creation more even than the end product itself.’ We spoke to two makers who feature inside the book

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Photograph: Charlotte Schreiber.

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Nicola Tassie

Nicola is a ceramist whose work focuses on the conceptual and material possibilities of domestic forms. She follows the studio pottery tradition to produce small batch editions of domestic ware which also form the basis of more sculptural still live sets and installations. She appreciates that this book documents the vibrancy and diversity of making that exists in East London, hopefully helping to encourage and secure its continuation… 

Tell us about your experience as a student and young maker.

I studied painting at the Central School of Art, but I was curious about the ceramics department – perhaps because I was interested in early cave art. A friend and I visited the ceramics department and asked if we could have a go at throwing, the technician gave us some crank, told us to hold on firmly, and left us to it. After a short while our hands were bleeding and we wondered at the toughness of potters! It obviously didn’t put me off though, and a few years later, after graduating I joined an evening class at my local adult education institute and leant to throw. After that I set up a pottery workshop in a spare corridor in my painting studio, and it was just practice, practice and a lot of learning through mistakes! By 1992 I was mostly making ceramics and only thinking about painting.

How do you find being a maker in East London? Is the area a hub of creativity? Is there a sense of creative community?

I have been at Standpoint Studios since 1992. The area was pretty empty then– a jazz club, a pub and cafe, and quite a few derelict buildings, so it was perfect for artists and musicians and we all knew or new of each other. The beginning of creating a community and starting something was the best bit – there was space to make things happen, so compared to that, it feels rather restricted now. Yet now there are more opportunities for showing and exhibiting and a greater range of design/craft studios. For me, the best creative community is Standpoint itself. Our studio holds a mix of contemporary arts and craft workers which keeps us alive to all the debates of what constitutes art/design/craft.

What are your hopes for the future of your practice?

I hope I can benefit from the growing interest and seriousness in ceramics as a viable material to make both well-designed material sensitive, functional ware and develop its sculptural possibilities.

facebook.com/pages/Nicola-Tassie-Ceramics/288319221360088

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Photograph: Charlotte Schreiber.

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Katharina Eisenkoeck

Katharina is a maker who is fascinated by the revival of ancient techniques and craft processes. Her approach to design can be described as practical research through material experimentation in order to create objects that are long lasting and show character of uniqueness through the making. She hopes this book will help to make people aware of the quality and uniqueness of handmade objects created amidst the hustle and bustle of a megacity like London…

How did you come to be a maker?

Both of my parents are architects, so discussing the interplay of aesthetics and functionality has been part of my life since early on. Growing up with arts and architecture has definitely shaped my approach to designing and creating my products. I worked in interior design before, then one day I decided to quit my job to do what I always wanted – to set up my own business as a designer-maker.

What are the challenges of being a maker of handmade objects in this world of mass production?

The biggest challenge is to make people understand the true value of a handmade object. We are so used to buying mass-produced furniture that when it comes to the small maker who produces a batch of maybe 5 pieces as opposed to 5,000, the price difference can be quite remarkable. However, a handmade piece crafted in high quality materials is made to outlive mass-produced objects.

What are your favourite things about this book?

For me, personally, it’s the people who are behind the book that make it so special. I remember the chilly Sunday morning in January when I got to meet co-founder Martin Usborne and the photographer Charlotte Schreiber. Both of them were so down-to-earth and lovely I barely noticed the freezing cold that day.

katharinaeisenkoeck.com

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Makers of East London offers an essence of the vibrancy and originality that East London has to offer; it is a book of fascinating stories and beautiful photography, surely with universal appeal.

Hoxton Mini Press is a small but rapidly growing independent publisher in Hackney who produce limited runs of collectable and affordable art books on East London. Founded in 2013 by Martin Usborne and Ann Waldvogel, the press believes that Hackney and its surroundings are London’s most exciting areas. Makers of East London is their largest and most ambitious book yet. The book is priced £30 – discover more at hoxtonminipress.com

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