The Artisans That Made London Craft Week 2024

by Christina Donoghue on 22 May 2024

As makers and craftspeople from all over set their sights on the UK capital last week for London Craft Week, we interviewed the artisans who go one step further to embed their craft with love and purpose.

As makers and craftspeople from all over set their sights on the UK capital last week for London Craft Week, we interviewed the artisans who go one step further to embed their craft with love and purpose.

Last week saw people from all over travel to London to explore the city's finest offerings in art and crafts for London Craft Week - a fair refusing to bow down to the medium's outdated stereotype that often reduces it to kitsch crochet for the over 80s. Instead, London Craft Week dedicates itself to spotlighting the artisans, ceramicists and crafts people you need to know to be in the know. As the spectacular showcase of talks, exhibitions and workshops flooded the capital to indulge Londoners and craft lovers alike in knowledge, expertise and what it means to make with love, we went out looking for the makers whose craft burns bright with care and love. One specifically-tailored event that brought together an array of makers looking to do just that was National Portrait Gallery's 'Meet the Makers', which saw the museum's shop taken over by a multitude of black British artisans and makers in response to the institution's new exhibition The Time Is Always Now - A major study of the Black figure – and its representation in contemporary art. 

'Still You Bloom In the Land of No Gardens', 2021 by Njideka Akunyili. © Njideka Akunyili Crosby, courtesy of the artist, Victoria Miro and David Zwirner

Makers involved came from a wide range of diverse creative backgrounds with anything from clay to leather to embroidery and even luxury chocolate making being represented. However, there were two artists whose work shone brightest thanks to their stalwart approach to their craft and eye for detail: cermaicist Bisila Noha and leather craftsman Kingsley Walters.

I've known Kingsley Walters since he first started his eponymous brand ten years ago. We met while working a part time weekend job at the same retail store in Shoreditch in 2016 and bonded over our love of well-made objects and leather crafts rooted in utilitarian design. Back then, Walters' brand was still in its early days but various fashion partnerships and collaborative projects were already beginning to take shape, as were the British-Jamaican designer’s own leather workshops - which saw him teach willing adults how to make their own bags and accessories using responsibly sourced leather. Hardworking, kind and a self-proclaimed minimalist-obsessive, Walters represents the best of British craft: cutting through the noise of an industry infatuated with stuff to carve 'well-thought out and well-intended luxury goods that last a lifetime'.

Kingsley Walters

When someone is as meticulous about the minor details as Walters is, you'll often find they have a hard time giving up control too, one of the many reasons as to why Walters is yet to hire a team of apprentices he can pass on knowledge while they help him grow his brand. Although this is the goal in the long-run, he wants to make sure the time is right, not just for his brand but so he can be of the best possible use to future crafts people too. 'I always thinking about running an apprenticeship programme but i'm also aware of the setbacks', Walters reveals. 'I remember when I was learning to sew as an intern to somebody else and I remember thinking "This guy is all over the place, what's the point if i'm not going to learn anything from him", you know? I don’t want to half teach someone or not teach them in the right way. The goal is to pass on knowledge, not bad habits.'

What's so unique about Walters is his sheer passion for leather and making, one that he sought out himself instead of following blindly. 'I was working at Levi's for a while as a shop boy and I wanted more, I was looking for something that would sustain me in the longrun, not just a hobby but something bigger'. After this realisation, Walters then dedicated much of his 20s to putting this into practise, despite it coming as a U-turn of sorts to everything he'd done in the past. It's this kind of raw, undivided passion that ceramicist Bisila Noha also unequivocally shares. 'I originally studied translation and international relations where i'm from in Spain but then I came to London looking for work and everything changed', Noha tells me. As it turns out, a friend of Noha's had casually picked up pottery and thought it was something Noha would enjoy too. 'She was right', Noha laughs. 'It was love at first sight and so everything just grew from there'.

Bisila Noha

Officially starting her business around 2017, Noha's work has evolved from looking at landscapes as inspiration for patterns to slowly becoming rooted in the artist's own desire to challenge women's history, particularly POC women. 'With my new work, there's a really strong element of restoration and hidden histories weaved in', the artist explains. 'I find it interesting because when you mostly look at the history of ceramics, what's obvious is that it’s a craft historically done by women of colour, the kind that would make domestic stuff in their homes for their families and yet this has been totally removed from history because of the West.' Looking to anchor her practise in a more research-based realm, Noha has taken it upon herself to bring this forgotten history to light. 'My aim, really, is to bring those histories to the forefront through the making, research, lots of travelling, visiting communities and creating objects that evolve from that spirit of family and domestic importance.'

Above all, what binds Noha's ceramics portfolio is movement, whether it pertains to our ever-changing understanding of history and colonialism or just the act of her throwing clay on a wheel to see what comes from it. 'I had a show two years ago and that's when the penny dropped', Noha informed me. 'Ever since, this thread has overpowered me and I can't ignore it - it's about making my pieces feel more aligned and wanting to anchor my work in the space between community research and historical facts.'

Regardless of the direction Noha and Walters choose to take their brands in, one thing is for sure: as long as they keep making, the crafts industry at large will be all the more better for it. To explore more of their work, click here.

Research image taken from



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