Here is your chance to go behind the scenes with local makers, we hear from Ashley Gerling ahead of the open weekend on Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd June

With locations in Bloomsbury and Deptford, Cockpit studios is home to a community of over 175 independent creative businesses ranging from metalsmiths to jewellers to weavers, woodturners, ceramicists and more.

“Craft has the power to shape a better world, but we also know that it takes time to hone brilliance and many years to become an overnight success,” says Ashley Gerling, head of marketing and digital at Cockpit. 

“Cockpit provides a space where talented creative people can grow into their full potential within a vibrant craft community that includes some of the most renowned craftspeople working today.”

At Cockpit, Ashley works closely with makers to share stories and spread the word about the studio as a social enterprise and “London’s leading centre for craft excellence”. 

Twice a year, they throw open their doors to the public for an Open Studios event, providing a behind-the-scenes glance into a working maker’s studio and the chance to meet celebrated craftspeople. 

Ashley explains: “Open Studios is so special because it’s an opportunity for the public to meet Cockpit makers in their studio space, surrounded by their tools, materials and works-in-progress, and to explore our historic buildings and immerse themselves in creativity. 

“It’s a unique chance to speak with makers and hear their stories and also to buy direct from craftspeople working in over 20 different disciplines.”

For over 30 years, Cockpit has “nurtured and supported” craftspeople, including makers in the fragile, early stages of their careers and those with established independent businesses. 

Ashley explains: “Cockpit is a charity whose mission is to bridge the gap between talent and opportunity and enable makers to start and sustain successful businesses.”

Cockpit is home to many makers and emerging talents, Ashley highlights a few from the Deptford community: “Eleanor Lakelin is a wood sculptor and was a finalist for the 2022 Loewe Craft Prize – she recently exhibited her work at TEFAF Maastricht and is about to open her second solo exhibition at Sarah Myerscough Gallery in June. 

“Phoebe English is an award-winning sustainable fashion designer – her work was recently acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Collection.

“Lenique Louis is the founder of her own sustainable luxury jewellery brand, whose fans include Ella Eyre, Little Simz and the Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton. 

“Leonardo Frigo is an artist, art restorer and globemaker who is currently etching over 100kg of copper to bring to life a large globe inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy.

“The list goes on, but there is honestly something for everyone at Cockpit.”

Image: Alun Callender Photography

This is the first Summer Open Studios in Deptford since 2022, so it’s due to be a big celebration. Ashley is most excited for the late opening on Friday 21 June (4pm-8pm), which will be the first chance for visitors to explore the building in summer and enjoy the Craft Garden in full bloom. 

And last year was Cockpit Deptford’s 21st birthday, “so we’ve been part of the southeast London community for a long time”, says Ashley. 

The new mural on the outer wall, Head, Heart, Hand, which was designed by Cockpit maker Amber Khokharwas also inspired by Deptford’s rich history and created in collaboration with the local community.

“The area around Cockpit Deptford feels like a real hidden gem,” Ashley adds. “It has everything – other creative hubs like Trinity Laban and The Albany, independent shops and cafés, art galleries – and then just a five-minute walk away you have Greenwich and the parks, the museums, the river, the market.

“There’s so much on offer, plus a real sense of community and authenticity that feels very unique to southeast London.”

This summer, Cockpit also has a new café partner – Spring Café – where you can grab drinks and snacks from throughout the weekend. Plus, there will be bookable workshops in the new Education Space and drop-in workshops that are suitable for all ages. 

Want to get involved in Cockpit? Makers can apply for standard studio placements twice a year, with awards and bursaries open for applications on a rolling basis – or you can support the work of the studio via the Friends and Patrons programme.

Summer Open Studios, 21-23 June 2024 (opening times and prices vary). Tickets available online: