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The Art of LIght

Margit Wittig has a rare creative talent. In her career she has organically morphed from physiotherapist to sculptural artist – with her in-depth studies of the human form often underpinning her statement pieces of decorative art, lighting and furniture.

I originally trained and worked as a phsyiotherapist ‼ I qualified in Munich in 1985. But I have always been artistic.

My mother was an artist and we painted watercolours of our garden. Every year, before Christmas, we’d collect old candles to melt the wax to cast festive ornaments which filled the house with fragrance.

I was born and raised in West Germany, but I’m now based in London. I stopped working as a physiotherapist when we moved to the US in 1997. When I came to London as a young mother of two, I wanted a creative outlet and started figurative sculpting at the London Art Academy which I absolutely loved.

Over the years I have developed my own abstract style.

My core product, lamps, I developed from my sculpted portraits along with other shapes of resin and glass. This became a hobby, and my first orders were from friends, but things took off when my work was noticed by interior designers.

The 'Eos' lamp by Margit Wittig
The 'Eos' lamp by Margit Wittig

I was drawn to three-dimensional arts and abstract paintings, but especially to sculptures by Brancusi and Giacometti. And what a connection that was! It was extraordinary that I would later learn that Giacometti and his brother made lamps in the 1930s and ’40s in order to survive!

Sculpture in bronze, 'Emotion'
Sculpture in bronze, 'Emotion'

It was my family↓s move to London in 2001, followed by domestic issues that proved cathartic. It prompted me to sign up first for a sculpting course and then a metals course. It felt like an outlet for my creativity while I was being a full-time single mother.

The art and craft of my lamps. My central raison d’etre is to turn lighting into an artform. My inspiration comes from many sources; the forms of my figurines are informed by art, in particular the sculptures of Brancusi and Giacometti, as I mentioned earlier.

Sculpture in bronze by Margit, 'Meditation'
Sculpture in bronze by Margit, 'Meditation'

I’m also very fond of texture and I’m always on the alert! On dog-walks or gallery visits, I take snapshots of the barks of trees or zoom into paintings to look closely at the brush strokes. This inspires my own work as I like to create a unique organic texture by applying different layers of patina to add depth.

The textural detail of Margit's 'Moon Gold' pendant light
The textural detail of Margit's 'Moon Gold' pendant light

I like to fashion assorted materials into my work.

I use a lot of materials in my work such as bronze, resin and jesmonite but clay is my first choice. It’s wonderfully versatile; you can use it to create shape, texture and really mess around with it. If the thing you’re making gets a bit exhausted or doesn’t work out, you can simply squash it together and start again. I recently designed a new table. The original was made of clay with imprints of tree bark. It is a cube shaped occasional table or stool which I am looking forward to casting in bespoke colour schemes.

I don’t like wasting material. I use clay to make the moulds for resin sculptures as well as developing ideas.

I have created many pieces, but a favourite is the ‘multipurpose’ screen I designed, because it is one of my first large-scale creations.

It is a display of many different sculptural components and can be used as a room divider or just as a decorative piece of functional art.

The resin elements included in the screen can be rotated to give it a new and changing appearance creating a different ‘look’ every time. As with all my other pieces, you can choose from all the different components and position them to create your bespoke screen.

I like to collaborate and work with other artisanal designers, but first I had to get noticed. My friend Emma Bleasdale, a business consultant got me started. We got to work, creating a website and an Instagram account. Then we invited around 30 people in the industry to see my collection of lamps. We successfully reached out to Kit Kemp, award winning interior designer and co-owner of prestigious London and New York based Firmdale Hotels. I achieved my first commission!

Kit Kemp once poetically described my designs as ‘curious, intriguing, classical, yet lyrical.’

Personally, I would actually say that my work is sculptural and functional. I enjoy designing new pieces which have a purpose, like lighting, tables, tabletops, door handles and room dividers, but enriching them with artistic components to transform each piece into a unique object.

A pair of Margit's lamps in situ in the Whitby Hotel, New York
A pair of Margit's lamps in situ in the Whitby Hotel, New York

Lamp stands will always be central to the Martig Wittig collection, and I love to work through different designs.

In recent years, though, I have branched out into making and designing tables, mirrors, screens and even door handles. I model and cast all my pieces in my East London studio but Ideas for new pieces begin at home in Southwest London. My apartment has large windows and far-reaching views so, by appointment only, it doubles as my gallery. It makes a great backdrop for my work!

I love to craft objets to enhance the home, especially if they harmonise in materials and colour. I like to fine-detail a concept in my signature style, so I choose functional accessories to spark alive a room, a bit like picking out a scarf, gloves or handbag to accent an outfit.

An example is my door handles, they are little individual pieces of sculpture. My organically shaped resin door handles, that come in different sizes, can be cast in bespoke colours with gold & silver leaf or verdigris patina.

Our lamps come in an array of funky designs of wall lights and floor lamps in Bespoke and Studio ranges.

We also do beautiful chandeliers that vary greatly in size, from smaller one tier pieces to larger four tier, twelve arm chandeliers. I use Resin sculptural pieces such as pearls, in a variety of changeable colours are used to accent and complement any interior.

The beautiful 'Elowen' chandelier by Margit Wittig
The beautiful 'Elowen' chandelier by Margit Wittig

The Bespoke collection of table lamps are beautiful pieces of sculpture in their own right and enriched by lampshades in exotic jewel colours.

The lamps sit beautifully with our decorative mirrors, whose ornate frames, cast in resin are shown below in a gold and verdigris finish. They are available in bespoke finishes with antiqued or clear mirrored glass. As you’ll see in the picture, they look stunning with the table lamp.

Margit's mirrors make a stunning backdrop for her lamps
Margit's mirrors make a stunning backdrop for her lamps

I like working with an eclectic portfolio of sculptural materials, but I can also really appreciate the texture of fine leathers and hides.

I just love the feel of luxury bags and luggage to take me out and about or on my travels. They have to be artisan made, finely crafted and, just like some of my pieces, be ‘sparked’ by a choice of colours. Forexample I love the crafting of an Italian leather briefcase.

For me, no there’s no contest. Gladstn London’s bags tick all the boxes. Heritage inspired, they’re designed in London and made in Italy from the finest of leathers. And beautifully finished with signature embellishments.

It’s a difficult choice but if I was going to select just one it would have to be... Case In Point. Colour? Espresso!

Case in Point in Espresso
Case in Point in Espresso

This pic shows a favourite piece of my work at home that I’d never sell.

And this round table is very special to me. I bought it at an auction house in Vienna when I was 20 and it’s travelled from home to home with me since, serving from study desk, to dining table, and now it is the heart of the studio. I love having flowers in my studio, too, to bring colour and inspire colour in my work.

My first impression of London that I loved and found inspiring was the sheer amount of art and art exhibitions and how accessible they are. I adore Hyde Park, where I love to walk by the Henry Moore ‘The Arch’ sculpture. To name a few favourite galleries, there’s the National Portrait Gallery, Tate modern, the V&A and, more of a hidden gem, but very appropriate, is the Royal Society of Sculptors in South Kensington.

There’s an upcoming exhibition I’m looking forward to;

I’m excited about the Two Temple Place event to see ‘Body Vessel Clay’ celebrating Black women, ceramics and contemporary art.

Looking to my German roots, I love Paul Klee↓s cubist work which relates to components of my work. In particular, his painting ‘Senecio’, 1922.

If I’m out and about I love to drop into HJEM in High Street Kensington is definitely my favourite local spot for a coffee and a cardamon bun!

Gladstonian Journal

Margit Wittig was speaking to Denise Barrett, Guest Editor

To find out more about Margit’s work, visit her website here.


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