During the first two weekends of December, The Arches Studios in Peckham will be holding open studios, where visitors will be able to see artists at work.
Artists and artisans have been working at The Arches Studios for the past 26 years. I interviewed one of the artists who will be at the Open Studios, Loraine Rutt, who makes ceramic globes at The Little Globe Co.
Can you tell me about the Open Studios that’s coming up at The Arches Studios and what people can expect to see?
The Arches Open Studios happens twice a year and has been going on for 23 years. It’s a little hub: there’s a forge making little chef’s knives, acclaimed ceramicist Jane Muir, quite a few ceramicists ranging from sculpture to handthrown tableware, a jeweller who’s making the most beautiful still-life silver jewelry–there’s also a spin painting workshop. Working in an arch is ideal for ceramics because of the steady temperature. Everybody working here makes their living creatively.
What’s great about this little yard is it’s tucked between two railway yards, and even people living locally for many years are surprised when they find us. Several hundred people show up every year. I’ve learned so much about local history from locals that come.
What inspired you to start making and selling globes?
I’ve always made globes. More recently, I became interested in the academic and scientific side of the mapping and conscious of the fragility of the planet. I had seen some 18th-century pocket globes and felt that I wanted to make tiny little globes as accurately as I could.
Were you primarily a cartographer before you started working in architectural ceramics?
I left school very young and became a cartographer working at Birkbeck College. I’ve always loved maps. I rebelled against the 9-5 office and went to Central St. Martin’s to study ceramics in my mid-20s. i wanted to do something freer, more creative. I’ve always enjoyed making things and knew I wanted to do ceramics. While I was at Birkbeck, I made the connection that I was using this ample resource of the ground to be creative with. I was using things of the ground and knew how to make maps of the ground.
I was awarded a fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and travelled through Spain, across America (part of that by motorbike), Mexico, and Guatemala, looking at how studio ceramics had been used in an archtiectural setting. It was incredible. The east coast of America was very influenced by northern Europe, using the same building material. The west coast and Mexico got the Spanish influence of the tiles from southern Spain and Islamic culture.
How did ceramics become the medium that took over your work? Did you have any previous experience with ceramics?
I’ve always made ceramics inspired by maps, but more recently I’ve become interested in making them as scientifically accurate as possible, putting the science back into ceramics. I’m very interested in the local area and in finding out about the River Peck that gave Peckham its name. I explored old maps and found the course of the old river. One of the other things that I’m showing at the Open Studios is a series of maps of the development of Peckham.
I also made a piece of London’s lost rivers, which was really the starting point for making the maps as accurate as possible. I got maps of topography and the rivers of London without the buildings and from that I made smaller, more detailed maps of the local area.
In addition to globes, you also make bowls, basins, and tile panels. How long does each type of piece typically take to complete?
It’s kind of an open-ended question–it really depends on the piece that I’m making. For example, the conception of a globe to the finished product once took me about five months but now takes about two days work plus a fraction of the five months development time.
The majority of the work I make now are edition pieces, with each piece having subtle differences from the original. I spend a lot of time doing the drawing work and making templates.
Anything coming up for you in the near future?
I was invited to exhibit at New Scientist Live, which was an amazing event with amazing people. I met Alfred Worden, who was the command module pilot on Apollo 15. He took the photographs from which the maps that I’m working from to make the Apollo landing sites and inspired what I’m working on.
ADDRESS: Blenheim Court, 48-50 Blenhein Grove, Peckham, London SE15 4QL