Cockpit maker Majeda Clarke is an award-winning artist specialising in weave. By playing with strong colour inspired by her cultural background, Majeda brings a modern aesthetic to an ancient craft. We caught up with her in her studio at Cockpit Bloomsbury about her work, process and inspiration.
Tell us about your work & inspiration
My work is grounded in a sense of place interposed with memory and it was my grandmother’s sari that captured my love of textiles at a young age. There is always strong colour influenced by my place of birth, Bangladesh. I often say I grew up understanding what complements pink or green inspired by the vivid colours of saris. However, there is also a balance reflected in my British upbringing and with that comes my love of European Modernism as a design aesthetic. I create blankets, scarves and artwork that have a graphic feel softened by pops of colour in considered yarns. All these elements are united through the power of storytelling as I narrate the story of how my cloth is made, who inspires it and where it comes from.
Where do you source your materials from?
My woollen yarns are spun in traditional UK mills and responsibly sourced. It is important that my practice reflects regional weaves through regional processes, from the sheer fine muslin traditionally woven in Dhaka to soft wool blankets woven in Lancashire. My wool has the RWS label and I am currently researching recycled yarn with a view to using it in my new collection.
How did you get into weaving?
I was an English Teacher and Education Consultant for many years after my English degree but always wanted a creative direction. I was fascinated by textiles and the wonderful stories my grandmother told me about the fabled Jamdani fabric and once my children started school I started a Textiles degree. After graduating I visited the Jamdani weavers in Dhaka and knew instinctively that I would one day have my own studio that sustained this UNESCO World Heritage weaving tradition.
How did you find your way to Cockpit?
After graduating I realised that I couldn’t set up a practice alone without a network of support and craft community, so I applied for the Clothworker’s Award at Cockpit, which started my business journey.
What would you like to be your legacy in the world of craft?
I am a strong advocate of small craft businesses and solo makers. I am a trustee at the Crafts Council and I mentor emerging makers. I believe in advocacy, and I think that inspiring a love of craft at a young age is fundamental to a healthy society. As such I am heavily involved in selection panels for grants, awards and competitions to continue the craft legacy and support new makers. This past year I’ve been closely involved in setting up the new Bagri Craft Award, which is a collaboration between Cockpit and the Bagri Foundation. It’s an opportunity for a maker of Asian heritage or from the Asian diasporas to join the Cockpit community and benefit from a free studio space so they can develop their craft. I’m also on the judging panel and excited to meet the applicants in a few months’ time.
The Clothworkers Award and the Bagri Craft Award are now open for applications. >> Learn more and apply
You can visit Majeda in her studio at Cockpit Open Studios, which next takes place 24-26 November 2023. >> Book tickets for Cockpit Open Studios