The Cockpit Arts/Clear Award 2016: Leah Jensen’s Progress

The Cockpit Arts/Clear Award 2016: Leah Jensen’s Progress

First launched in 2012, the annual Cockpit Arts / CLEAR Insurance Award aims to support professional craftspeople by providing them with match funded studio space and business development support for one year.

Of the 10 designer-makers invited to interview in July 2016, Leah Jensen impressed the judges and was selected as winner of the 2016 Award. Leah Jensen is a ceramicist and wood turner who merges different materials together to create striking and unique pieces. Leah’s research examines European painting between the 14th – 16th centuries, depicting tales of sorrow, tragedy and beauty.

Leah moved in to Cockpit Arts, Deptford in September 2016 and we recently caught up with her to ask about his progress winning the award.

We are pleased to share some Q&As about Leah’s progress:

Q. What difference has The Cockpit Arts / Clear Award made to you and your business?

The difference has really been huge. Having only been in London for a year and still in the early stages of my business, it has been so incredibly valuable to have an instant network of support. The insurance segment of the award has been brilliant, because I make highly time- consuming one off pieces; if something goes wrong it’s not as simple as just making another one. I feel very comforted in the knowledge that if I am ever in that situation, a very helpful and understanding company are just on the end of the phone.

Q. How has the Award affected the growth, development and/or performance of your business?

It may sound simple, but having everything I need to make my work in a clean, warm and well-organised space is something I have never experienced before, and it has made a huge difference to the efficiency of my practice. I have spent my time at Cockpit so far solidly making vessels for my first solo show with The New Craftsmen in May 2017, which has meant I haven’t had anything to sell or promote as it’s all kept under wraps until the exhibition.

Q. How has the Award affected the profile of your business?

Taking part in the Open Studios in December 2016, it quickly became apparent to me that people associate a certain level of craftsmanship with studio holders and Cockpit. It has made me think a lot about how my work is perceived and what kind of image I want to portray. The additional press around the solo exhibition with The New Craftsmen has really boosted my profile, and it’s been a great asset to promotional activity to say that I am a recipient of the Award.

Q. Have you learned new skills by being part of Cockpit?

The workshops I have attended so far have been really amazing; I feel I am able to plan things effectively now, which is something I definitely struggled a lot with in the past. Talking with the other ceramicists has been brilliant, and I’m hoping to learn more about wood turning once the exhibition is complete and I have some spare time.

Q. Has your attitude towards running your business changed as a result of being at Cockpit?

Definitely, through the 1-2-1 sessions and the classes I have learnt the importance of organisation and planning. Having the studio space has also helped me to think of my practice as more of a job and less of a dream. I have really realised the importance of not spending all my time making and neglecting other things that are important within the business.

Q. Has the time you are spending on your business changed as a result of being at Cockpit and the subsequent growth of your business? Do you spend more time at work or less?

I am able to spend so much more time on my business now that I’m at Cockpit: I normally do 13 hour days as many days a week as possible. Working from home I found there were too many distractions, and at my previous studio there was not the space or facilities to stay there for a long amount of time; it was so cold! As I mentioned before, having a well-organised space has been a huge time saver: most days I am able to start carving just after I walk through the door as everything is already there and ready.

Q. Has anything changed for you at a personal level as a result of being at Cockpit?

I feel that being at Cockpit has been a huge confidence boost in my craft, which has carried further to the rest of my life and made me a more confident person in general, which is absolutely huge. It’s unbelievable to work in the same building as some of my favourite UK makers.

Q. What is next over the coming 6 months?

At the moment I am preparing for my very first solo show that will be at The New Craftsmen as part of London Craft Week. I have been concentrating on the project for many months and have created my most ambitious pieces to date. After that I am looking forward to doing some experimenting and also thinking about what I will do for my next big project.

The CLEAR Insurance Scheme for Craft Workers & Designer-makers

CLEAR continue to show their commitment to supporting creative businesses, having run the CLEAR Scheme for Craft Workers & Designer-makers since November 2002. The scheme has proved enormously beneficial to the UK craft community by providing an affordable insurance package tailored specifically to the needs of designer- makers.