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Becky Cocks: The papier-mâché revival

London Craft Week 2021

'I wanted to design products that were sustainable, thinking eventually they will return to the ground.'

Artist Becky Cocks takes an experimental approach to papier-mâché. An eclectic career in theatre design and creative direction, combined with a family history in prop-making extending back to her third great-grandfather, has trained Becky to be constantly inventing and problem solving in her work.

Her first papier-mâché collection, FORM has been developed in collaboration with Bamford for London Craft Week – a celebration of the outstanding British and international community of emerging makers and designers.

London's thriving artistic community

Tucked away in the London Borough of Southwark, there is a thriving creative community of some of the best professional creative makers and designers working in London. Iliffe Yard is one of three cobbled yards on the Pullens Estate - a Victorian housing estate originally built in the late 1800s as artisan workshops and early precursors of work/live units.

It is in this dynamic setting that artist Becky Cocks has discovered and honed her papier-mâché craft, and has created the FORM collection for Bamford by hand in her studio.

LONDON CRAFT WEEK WORKSHOP WITH BECKY COCKS - 8TH OCTOBER

To celebrate our collaboration for London Craft Week, Becky is hosting an intimate workshop in her London studio for guests to learn how to make a casting mould for papier-mâché. Each guest will leave with their own casting mould to practise the craft at home.

Booking necessary. Limited spaces available.

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Exhibition at Bamford South Audley

Bamford have collaborated with Becky on a collection of plaster and papier-mâché vessels called FORM.

Becky’s approach to work is experimental and playful; she is constantly inventing, problem solving and visualising in 3D to create works that celebrate the beauty of natural materials.

A selection of specially made papier-mâché pieces for Bamford will be available to view and buy at Bamford South Audley for the duration of London Craft Week.

Bamford South Audley Street

62 SOUTH AUDLEY ST,

LONDON, W1K 2QR

0207 499 7994

SOUTHAUDLEY@BAMFORD.CO.UK

MON - SAT 10.00AM - 6.00PM

'My understanding of the word 'craft' is that it provides a space where you can hone in on a material, experiment and expand over a length of time, or lifetime, to make discoveries through decision or mistakes.'

Can you tell us about your first encounter with papier-mâché?

The subconscious played a part in my choosing this medium. A papier-mâché pot imitating a Chinese porcelain vase belonging to and made by my third great-grandfather - a prop maker - sits at home. This kickstarted the thought process of the possibilities of papier-mâché being endless.

Further research showed me that the need for the craft, and therefore the practice of it, had died out since the rise of the Industrial revolution in the 19th Century, and curiosity made me want to explore and develop new ways of using it as a medium. So began the papier-mâché revival.

Do you enjoy the slower pace of your craft compared to your eclectic career in creative direction?

In 'momentary design', the concepts for store windows and installations had to be made to give an illusion - in a way that suggests a true form, in use and aesthetic, but it would only last a short duration of time as a display.

The design principle for FORM is the same, except now it becomes real and functional as an object. In this project, I wanted to design products that were sustainable using papier-mâché, thinking they will eventually return to the ground; as much as a prop tree will eventually die and the paper it was made from goes back to the earth.

How did you approach making the papier-mâché FORM collection?

After amassing ideas and drawings for the Bamford FORM collection, I started to make cardboard maquettes to visualise the shape. Thereafter formas were made from wood, which is then layered with papier-mâché - it can take up to five layers for each piece, which individually take 24 hours to air dry. The sunlight in my studio sucks up the moisture and leaves a creamy hue to the paper, meaning each piece takes on its own natural colour definition.

London Craft Week is an international platform for all makers working in London to be represented, inviting the diverse communities in this city to look, touch and involve themselves in the world of craft. It is an honour to be asked by Bamford to represent them with this collection, which is still an evolving, limitless craft for me.

A lot of papier-mâché craft seems to be about trial and error, would you agree?

Trial and error are the best teachers. There is so much more scope in the longevity of papier-mâché and what one can do with it. I have been looking at Roman drapery in sculpture and am at present recreating the drapery in a large scale format of papier-mâché - using fabric as a foundation and layering the fabric with paper. The robustness of the medium gives me the strength to experiment further. I think this has led me to a craft practise that has traditional, sustainable techniques as the predominant factor.

Visit us 4-10th October 2021

Bamford South Audley Street

62 SOUTH AUDLEY ST,

LONDON, W1K 2QR

0207 499 7994

SOUTHAUDLEY@BAMFORD.CO.UK

MON - SAT 10.00AM - 6.00PM