Under a railway arch in Peckham, behind the MOT garages and hipster bars, lives a small artists’ community. Every summer, the arch hosts a pocket globe-making workshop, courtesy of artist Loraine Rutt. As an amateur collector determined to observe these beautiful porcelain orbs in close-up, I went along to an open-studio session last year to witness Rutt work on the globes using ceramic stains and metal oxides. I’ve since added to my collection with two of her globes – a tiny lunar one, Blue Moon (from £150), and one from her Land and Sea collection (from £350). I keep them with my antique flea-market finds in a vintage German medicine cabinet that’s become something of a centrepiece in our sitting room.
Rutt trained and worked as a cartographer before studying ceramics at Central Saint Martins. Her lifelong love of maps, geography and art came together almost 30 years later, when she founded The Little Globe Co in 2016, inspired by a 200-year-old pocket globe in shagreen and a photograph of the earth taken from the moon. “Rather than making maps,” she explains, “I flipped it and started making ceramics from a cartographer’s viewpoint. I decided to do something involving scale, to focus on making scientifically accurate globes that are cartographically correct.”
The miniature globes (from £150) are exquisite – delicate and detailed. Once fired, they are burnished with a diamond pad to make them as smooth as a sea-washed pebble. As I carefully handle some of the finished globes hung around the artist’s studio, I’m made aware not only of their monetary value but also, in a symbolic, Blue Planet-style moment, of the precious nature of the Earth and how as human beings we hold that responsibility in our hands.
With a number of collaborations on the horizon, The Little Globe Co is busier than ever. An exclusive range for David Linley launches in September, followed in October by a limited edition globe during World Space Week, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo landings. The latter was triggered by a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with Apollo 15 astronaut Colonel Al Worden at the New Scientist Live exhibition. “I never thought when I started making lunar globes that I would actually meet someone who’d been to the moon,” Rutt enthuses over the chance meeting. “The scale of my globes… only astronauts have seen the earth at that distance. Worden made that connection immediately and it blew my mind.”