May 23, 2014

Claire Darwent at the St James Workshop

Could you tell us about the work you will be showing during this year's E17 Art Trail?
I am going to be launching a range of small furniture items including a coat rack and single-shelf, free-standing book case called the' Book Hound' at the Art Trail.  I will also have some smaller items for sale; desktop boxes made from hardwoods left over from previous commissions.

How have you been preparing for this year's trail?
I have been designing and making small  furniture items and photographing recent commissions with a view to updating my portfolio and demonstrating the sort of work that I do on a regular basis.

Could you tell us about an an artist that  particularly inspires you?
I really like the work of contemporary Japanese designers; Tomoko Azumi is someone that I always look out for. She first came to my attention in the late 90's in an exhibition at the Crafts Council called 'Flexible Furniture' I think.  To my mind she achieves truly beautiful design with the minimum of fuss, and has the most brilliant eye for simple detailing in all her pieces which makes them stand out from the crowd.

How does inhabiting a community like Walthamstow help your practice? 
The St James Workshop was formed just over 2 years ago now, after we had been forced out of Dalston because of soaring rents.  We have a good relationship with the other tenants on the small Brunner Road estate but as commissioned-based furniture makers, our work takes us all over London and we have yet to forge links with potential clients closer to home.

I love trying out new things for lunch from the market, something that I thought I had left behind in Dalston and Ridley Road market.

What are you most looking forward to during the E17 Art Trail this year?

I am looking forward to meeting the locals, letting them know about our workshop and demonstrating to them that comissioning bespoke furniture is nothing to frightened of. Our machinery has some very sharp teeth, but we don't!

Listing no.75 in the guide: Click here for more information

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