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Interview with artist, maker and Cockpit Arts/CLEAR award winner Stephanie Buttle

Every year, we team up with Cockpit Arts, the UK’s only creative business incubator for craftspeople, to offer a special award for professional makers and artists. The winner receives a match funded studio place at Cockpit Arts - worth £2500* - plus an insurance package specially tailored for craftspeople from us at CLEAR, and more (interested? Enter for this year’s award here)

We caught up with last year’s winner, dance and performance influenced artist and maker Stephanie Buttle, 6 months into her tenure to see how the award has made an impact on her work and life.

Q. What difference has The Cockpit Arts / Clear Insurance Award made to you and your business over the last 6 months?

The main immediate difference that the Award has made to my artistic practice is the studio space. I have not had the chance to know what that ‘sacred studio’ space can be to a maker/artist and my work has significantly moved on due to the environment.

In addition to studio space, I have also benefited from intensive one-to-one conversations with my Business Coach Emma Jeffs. These conversations have liberated and identified important priorities within my practice both strategically and more practically. The workshop scheme has also been most useful and the diverse outlines within these workshops have supported both creative and business thinking.

The most recent collection of work made since the Award began was shown at the Open Studios and Messums Wiltshire gallery have taken this collection as an entire work for their upcoming ‘Material Earth III’ show running from 2nd February through 3rd March. Hauser and Wirth’s ‘Make’ gallery in Bruton, Somerset, has asked me to create a collection for a show in spring 2019.

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

Open Studios was a particularly rewarding experience, firstly as an exercise in arranging the work that I have made during the first part of the Award, to visualise the incremental advances due to the important conversations I have had during the coaching sessions and workshops. However I find it really hard to answer the question directly as I don’t see my practice as a business with a profile but much more as an art practice which is fluid. Under that more art framed wording I can be absolute in describing that the Award has supported a braver approach to work and the results are ongoing.

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

Regarding the performance of business I consider this a question of monetary independence. At present I still make the majority of my income through teaching, my aim for the future is that my studio work will become the main source of income.

Q. Are there any particular areas of your business that have changed over the last 6 months?

I would say that so far it is more a question of responding to the support and studio space/freedom and putting into action a new discipline due to these privileges. I also feel through the workshop and mentor scheme I am owning a deeper understanding and professional overview for my future as an artist.

Q. What are you looking forward to most in the coming 6 months?

I am looking forward to continuing the experience of practical studio practice in the inspiring space in studio 200 at Cockpit Arts Deptford. And to continue to take up the opportunity of the ongoing one-to-one coaching scheme and workshops that are relevant to my practice.

Q. Are there any other comments you would like to make about Cockpit and or the Award?

Before gaining the Award I had visited both of the Cockpit Arts sites and know makers in both, but the reality of being part of the institution is a much more complete and rewarding experience. There is such an open and friendly atmosphere at Deptford, all the maker/artists that I have met at both sites have been really open and enthusiastic about their work and the environment.

It can sometimes feel very isolated world as a maker, the studios are a hub for diverse creative activity, the resounding commonality is the exceptional talent and commitment within the collective and this standard seems to create an equality and confidence in all the makers I have met.

Everyone I’ve met who works at the Cockpit Arts has been incredibly generous and professional – the overriding impression is that everyone connected seems utterly committed to creating a safe and creatively stimulating environment for us, the makers and artists of the present and future, to flourish. And they do.

Entries for the 2019 Cockpit Arts/CLEAR Award are now open.

Enter here for your chance to win a match-funded £2500 studio space at Cockpit Arts, insurance from CLEAR, and more.

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