Interview with artist, maker and Cockpit Arts/Clear award winner Ula Saniawa

Each year the Cockpit Arts/Clear Insurance Award supports the work of professional designer-makers who show particular promise, with the winner receiving a match funded studio place at Cockpit Arts - worth £2500* - plus an insurance package specially tailored for craftspeople from us at Clear.

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2019’s winner was ceramic artist Ula Saniawa, who makes hand pinched porcelain installations and vessels.

Now six months through her tenure, Ula reflects on the impact the award has had across her work and life:


Q. How are you finding Cockpit Arts so far?

A. Cockpit has been great and definitely game-changing. The location and 24-hour open access have been brilliant and allowed me to be very productive. I have also met some amazing makers that are generous with advice and very encouraging.


Q. How is your space?

A. The space itself is very nice, I love the wooden floor and the big windows, which make the studio beautifully lit in the day.

I am glad to have this space that I was able to organise exactly according to my work’s needs and complete with elements that allow me to test hanging structures.


Q. What activities have you taken part in so far?

A. I have attended all the ‘Make It Count’ workshops, which were brilliant and gave me good fundamentals of business knowledge. The summer barbeque at Deptford was a great opportunity to make friends with other makers and really feel like a part of this community. 

And last, but not least, I have enjoyed the most recent Winter Open Studios which I’ve found very insightful.


Q. What are you working on at the moment and what do you have coming up?

A. At the moment, I am working on a series of framed wall pieces for three gallery shows and, private wall installation commission, a wall piece installation for submission to Royal Academy summer exhibition and concept installation designs that, together with photos of my completed projects, will form a presentation book for large scale commissions.


Q. Have you met your Business Coach and what have you been working on?

A. Yes, I have met with Maddie a few times and her advice has always been very valuable. She helped me clarify my direction, organise my practice in business and workflow as well as gave me very good pointers in specific situations that I’ve encountered and wasn’t sure how to approach.


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

A. As I have started working with two galleries and will be included in at least three shows in the next couple of months, I am looking forward to seeing how this relationship will develop and what the response will be.

After the good response from the large installation I have completed for Roka restaurant in London, I am excited to share this project and other concepts that I have been working on with chosen restaurants, hotels and art consultants and see if it could result in a few new projects.


Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share?

A. I am truly grateful for the support that this Award has given me, it has not only made a huge difference in my physical work, but also given me more confidence in my approach to business and courage for reaching higher goals.

Thank you!


We’re looking forward to hearing about Ula’s full-year progress in July!

Clear are committed supporters of craft businesses and have run The Clear Insurance Scheme for Craft Workers & Designer-makers, an affordable insurance package tailored specifically to the needs of designer-makers, since November 2002.


*The match funded studio place at Cockpit Arts is to be matched with £2,500 from the successful applicant. The total sum (Award and maker’s contribution) is linked to the cost of the space and support services the Awardees will receive. Please note that most studios are shared, and sizes vary but an average studio space per maker is around 100-150sq ft.

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