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19.06.2014

Studio Tour : Charlotte Mei

South London’s creative scene is buzzing with a heady mix of fresh out of art school illustrators, unoccupied estates and warehouse walls begging for a sick mural. In a predominantly male skate scene , the adorable Charlotte Mei is making some serious watercolour waves.

Keen to hear more about Charlotte’s unique spin on ceramic art, we hung out in her new studio to talk space heroes, Sailor Moon and just why she’s becoming the toast of Pinterest...

So why ceramics?

Using clay was an organic way for me to take my drawings into the 3D realm. With it’s malleable nature, using ceramic feels like an extension of drawing on paper. Working in each media informs the other.

Can you tell us about your studio space?

I’ve just relocated to an ex council flat on the Aylesbury Estate in Elephant and Castle, just behind the infamous Heygate Estate (RIP!). It has a seventies council building vibe, with cool pink radiators, which is quite comforting. I share the space with another illustrator called Matt Dale, and a sound artist called Tom Mclean who makes Synthesisers .

We think your work has a really serene, kind of clumsy feel, Is this intentional?

Thank you! Well, the clumsy feel is more to do with the fact that I am actually really clumsy. I break about 50% of the ceramics I make before they see a kiln.

What inspires and informs your creative subjects?

Funny things, people, animals, fantasy… I’m interested in social interaction, why we think things are gross or scary, and why we think other things are cute. There is something about removing the function and usefulness of an object by making it out of a big stupid lump of clay , that I find really funny. I mean who wants a pair of ceramic shoes? Or a piece of ceramic toast? Its stupid! That’s why I like it.

There feels like a real buzz around South London’s creative scene right now…

Being in Peckham has been good for me in lots of ways. It has a strong music and arts scene, and is massively culturally diverse. It has also enabled me to get involved with projects like the Coverse Cons project, working with the art team on wall pieces and murals, curated by my friend Sam.

Can you tell us about this insane soft focus portrait on your wall!?

Haha! I think this is a painting of Chris Brown, it’s from a card shop in Peckham market. There’s this make of cards there with paintings of different R’n’B singers, they have something for every occasion. I kept this one for myself because it makes me feel some type of way.

 Who is your space hero?

Laika the dog ! She was the first animal in space and she was sent on a one way research mission. She died in space but she helped generate data which made space travel for humans possible. Really tragic.

On a lighter note, my childhood space hero was Sailor Moon. Breaking hearts and saving the world… she’s the original bad bitch. But man, I always had a soft spot for Sailor Mars, she’s repping the brunettes!

We hear you love a good conspiracy?

Growing up watching X-files late at night with my mum set the tone, i’ve been down for a good conspiracy theory ever since. There was quite a funny one where this horrible bloated, blue creature was washed up on a beach but turned out to be a dog who had drowned, but because of the time it spent floating around in brine it had swelled beyond any recognition and all its fur had come off. There’s also a really cool skeleton in the Horniman Museum of a ‘mermaid’, which is actually just a monkey torso connected to a fish tail made by some ye olde prankster who  fooled the world!

Its cool to see you’re into your anime, can you talk us through your favourites and why?

Studio Ghibli – Totoro and Nausica are amazing, but my favourite anime is Akira. It is just so beautifully designed and so human, even though it deals with some pretty otherworldly themes. I heard they are making a live action version of it? And that Keanu Reeves is lined up to play teenage Kaneda! But I love Keanu, the matrix is my favourite film. And i’m not gonna hate on live-action Akira either, I’d be curious to see how they approach it. I’ve got a lot of love for Ghost in the Shell, Evangelion and anything involving mechanically enhanced humans!

What was your favourite clothing piece from today?

I love the mens Emptiness long sleeve top, for keeping warm on interstellar adventures!

What emoji’s do you desperately need?

The one’s I’ve noticed that are missing are cheese, dinosaur and black guy. If they are gonna do more I wouldn’t mind a few more breeds of dog? Sometimes you can’t say what you need to say with ‘generic dog’ emoji. Right now I’m loving how there are two separate dragons, real good for Game of Thrones mentions ! I’m quite preoccupied with that at the moment, I like Jamie Lannister’s new haircut.

What exciting projects’ are in the pipeline this summer?

I’ve just got a new stockist in New York called Partners and Spade, for whom I’ve made a series of ceramic toy-cars based on NY taxis, subway carriages, NYPD, hotdog vans…I’d love to go over to the US and do a show! I’m also releasing a book with my community art collective Day Job, and working on a gaming exhibition at Jaguar Shoes , curated by my friend Charlene. We’re exploring all the games we grew up with like Pokemon, Sonic, and Tekken.

If you were to move to another planet, which one and why?

Well Earth is pretty crazy and i’ve still got loads to explore here, so I’ll stay… for now!

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Enjoy more of Charlotte’s work at www.charlottemei.com and follow her Instagram & Twitter for regular updates.

Look out next week for our Personal Space illustrator edit, where Charlotte and some of of our other favorite young artists will be reinterpreting the Space Oddity collection.

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