Tuesday, 31 December 2019

And The Door Opened: the shop window display - November 2nd 2019-January 6th 2020

The show window display was set up on November 2nd and changed bit by bit throughout the display period as I was able to add complete pots. The titles were added last with quotes from some of the people who attended the launch and demonstration.

And The Door Opened: Drop in Demonstration and Workshop, November 30th and December 7th 2019

The drop in on November 30th brought people in from the shopping mall and library to see me demonstrating how to rebuild a shattered pot. Some people came, having attended the launch, others saw posters, others followed social media posts but most just came in from the mall.

The workshop, where I invited people to bring a broken pot from home and and I would show them how to mend it was all people returning from one of the earlier events. There are no images of the mending workshop, mainly because everyone was too busy concentrating on their work and because I forgot to take any but also because there was a kind of intimacy about the day. People brought their own things with their own stories. I can share one of these though. A woman brought a broken ceramic clown - just the button was broken, a tiny part of it but it was in numerous pieces. She was Nigerian and her father had been a leading trade union activist there. In the 1960s he went to Russia as part of a TU delegation and was given the clown as the TU equivalent of a diplomatic gift. She mended the button with utmost care. At the end she said, 'I'm going to leave out this last piece as a memorial and to honour all the shattered lives.'

And The Door Opened: the Launch, November 25th, 2019

'And the Door Opened' launched, (officiall,) on November 25th, to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Held in the old Post Office in Wood Green, now occupied by Collage-arts and renamed Collage Artspace 4, we had a full house - 53 people came not including speakers or photographer.

Me speaking, introducing the project and welcoming the audience. Speakers on the left, from left: Caroline Hattersley, director of Women @the Well; Fiona Broadfoot, sex trade survivor, founder of Build a Girl, and one of three survivors bringing the judicial review, with the Centre for Women's Justice, to get criminal convictions removed from the record exited women; Julie Bindel, journalist, researcher and campaigner and author of The Pimping of Prostitution,' 2017, Palgrave Macmillan; and next to Julie Bindel is Julie McNamara who compered and led us into the minute's silence before I smashed the pot in the centre of the room. She also ended the event reading Audre Lourde's 'Litany for Survival.' McNamara is a performer, writers, activist and Artist direct of Vital Exposure, 'a passionate plea for social justice.'  Below is a montage of three views of pot then called 'Ten Thousand Men,' that was smashed. It will be renamed once it is rebuilt and images of the women painted inside become dominant.

The images of me smashing the pot and the two below them are by Sylvain Deleu, as is the one directly above, showing a detail of the inside of the pot smashed at the Filia Conference in Bradford. This pot is now called, 'I'm Not The Criminal,' and the image is of Fiona Broadfoot who led the March Against the Sex Trade in Bradford where the pot was smashed. The other images show the pots on display at the event, some complete, some in progress. All photos by attendees - except the one with Fiona Broadfoot talking to journalist, Josephine Bartosch - that one is also by Sylvian Deleu.

Monday, 28 October 2019

March Against the Sex Trade, Filia Conference 2019, Bradford.

The March Against the Sex Trade took place on the Saturday evening, October 19th, at the end of day one of Filia conference. We assembled at twilight and processed to Centenary Square, the main square in Bradford. There we gathered in a circle and, after an introduction by Fiona Broadfoot, read out the names of all the women who had been murdered while exploited in prostitution. Shocking how long it took. As daylight was faded, and the sky went deep blue, we held up white roses and cards, each with the name of one murdered woman, and called out the names again, all together this time, like a Greek Chorus. Once all the names had been sounded at least three times, we had a minute’s silence to reflect on the harms of prostitution and sex trade, and to remember the lives and deaths of the women whose names were called. ‘The Invisible Man,’ the pot set up in the centre of the circle, ‘broke the silence,’ as it smashed on to the paved stone ground, releasing the images of women painted inside.

The memorial concluded with a song and a dance by an Argentinian woman, one of the conference speakers, whose daughter had been abducted, prostituted, and murdered in Buenos Aires.

Perhaps the most significant part though was this: I was about to collect and wrap up the shards when a young man who was passing by with his girlfriend, asked me if I knew Rebecca Hall, one of the women whose names were called out during the memorial. ‘I knew her,’ he said, ‘She was one of my best friends at school. This means so much to me.’ He then went and spoke to the woman holding the card with Rebecca’s name on it. You can read about Rebecca here.

The shards are now on their way back to the studio where they will be glazed and the pot reassembled but with pieces left out so you can see the images of the women painted inside. If all goes according to plan, the internal images – the women - will dominate. You will see them rather than the men depicted on the outside of the pot. The shattering and mending of a pot is a simple metaphor, reflected in the words, ‘I was shattered. Now I’m piecing myself slowly back together.’

Among my proudest moments, as a feminist and a potter, are when my pots are part of feminist activism, especially activism against the sex trade and the call for abolition. The March Against the Sex Trade was an action done as part of a feminist conference but in a public space. Reaching out to survivors, to family and friends of survivors, and to passers by  - the public in the most general sense, is surely the most important of any campaign. It was a huge honour to be part of it.

The names of the women murdered in prostitution in Bradford
May 21 2010, Suzanne Blamires, 36
April 26 2010 Shelley Armitage, 31
June 22 2009, Susan Rushworth, 43
April 26 2001: Rebecca Hall, 19
May 2000 Gemma Simpson, 23
October 1996: Caroline Creevy, 25
June 8 1995: Maureen Stepan, 18
1992 Yvonne Fitt, 32
1984: Deborah Kershaw,22
January 21 1978: Yvonne Pearson, 21
Wiki page – women UK-wide  - This is UK and Ireland - from 2010-today. 

Fiona Broadfoot is one of the women bringing the judicial review aiming to get convictions removed from the record of exited women and remove the need for disclosure which represents a major barrier for prostituted women who are trying to exit.

Friday, 11 October 2019

And The Door Opened, ceramic project with Women @the Well, (W@W)

images: From top:
1. 'The Inivisible Men,' 2019. Smashed in Centenary Square, Bradford, at The March Against the Sex Trade, Filia international feminist conference, October 19th, 2019.
2. 'I'm Not The Criminal,' 2020, in its unbroken state, this was 'The Invisible Men.' The rebuilt  - or second state, is 'I'm Not The Criminal,' depicting the March Against the Sex Trade, led by Fiona Broadfoot, who organised it, and other sex trade survivors. (photos: Sylvain Deleu)
3. Me with 'I'm Not The Criminal,' 2020. (photo: Sylvain Deleu)

About the Project:

W@W is a women-only service located in Kings Cross dedicated to supporting women whose lives are affected - or at risk of being affected - by prostitution. They have asked me to make a collection of pots illustrating the stories of the women they work with and then to get both the pots, and the stories they tell, to as wide an audience as possible. 

And The Door Opened,’ is my response. In effect, it is a travelling ‘Work in Progress’ show – think ‘Open Studio' goes on tour. It is not a single exhibition, or any exhibition as such, it is a series of events with displays of my pots, demonstrations of pot-making, talks, seminars, and conversations  that, together, will illustrate the stories of women wanting to leave, ‘exit’ prostitution. 

The aim is to enhance the public's understanding of what prostitution is and to show that, with the right support, girls and women do not need to live and die exploited in the sex trade – there are ways out.

When and Where - latest updates and current schedule: 

March 20th-22nd 2020 Ceramic ArtLondon, Central St Martins, Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, London, N1C 4AA
Sunday 22nd March: 'And The Door Opened' is part of the Claytalks lecture series. I'll be presenting from 1-2pm

NEW: March 30th 2020, readings and pot smashing ceremony at Wood Green Library, 191 High Road, Wood Green, N22 6XD as part of Women’s History Month.

May 1st-September 30th Beyond the Streets and St.Botolph’s without Aldgate,
Aldgate High St, London EC3N 1AB
Beyond the Streets, an exiting service in East London, leads a walking tour in Whitechapel in opposition to the ‘Jack the Ripper’ tours, on the last Thursday of each of the five months. The tour talks about the lives of the women who were murdered, stopping at the places they lived, and also talks about the lives of prostituted people now. St. Botolph’s without Aldgate will have a display of pots from the project from May to September.
See Beyond theStreets website to book a place on the walking tour.

New: Major event being planned for September 29th with St. Botolph's without Aldgate and Beyond The Streets. Updates as they come.

September 19th and October 3rd 2020 Southbank Open Spaces Trust with Crossbones Cemetery, Redcross Way, London, SE1 1SD  This event has been 'no platformed.'  You can read Josephine Bartosch's article about it here: 'The Silencing of Feminist Artists.'   I am looking for an alternative venue for a ceremonial smashing of a pot and for a permanent memorial. 
Cross Bones is the burial site of the ‘outcast’ people of the 17th and 18th centuries, including prostituted women.

September 10th-October 15th, 2020 Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge, London SE1 9DA
Display of pots at Southwark Cathedral in the chapel until October 10th

New: October 17th -18th Filia Conference, Portsmouth, 2020 
Display of And The Door Opened pots.

And the Door Opened will continue in 2021 in Stoke on Trent, Bradford and Leeds.

Past Events 2020:

Jan 23rd 2020: I'll be talking about 'And The Door Opened,' at Zuleika.
This is an informal talk -I'll be there from 2pm and available to introduce the project, discuss and answer questions. The gallery will be open until 8pm.

Jan 14th-31st 2020 Zuleika Gallery, 6 Mason's Yard, London, SW1Y 6BU
This is a display of four pots from 'And The Door Opened,' as part of a gallery artists show, 'January Edit.' This is Zuleika's official launch of the project  - W@W is the charity it will be supporting this year.

Past events 2019

November 7thth-December 31st 2019 with Collage-arts at Collage Artspace 4 and Wood Green Library, Library Mall, 191 High St, London, N22 6DZ
Window display and display in library Nov 7th 2019 -Jan 6th, 2020
Launch with speakers and pot-breaking ceremony: Nov 25th  (to coincide with UN 16 days campaigning to eliminate violence against women;) Details of event available here
Photos and brief summary here.

Demonstration of mending a pot with talk: Nov 30th 12-4pm;
How to mend a pot - workshop for participants Dec 7th 12-4pm.
Brief description and photos of both events here.

October 30th 2019a talk about the project at Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire

October 19th 2019unofficial launch - Filia Conference, Bradford, 'The Invisible Man' was smashed as part of the March against the Sex Trade. Pictures and description of the event here.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

White Lilies, (2019,) supporting the starter fund for 'And The Door Opened,' a Ceramic Project with Women @the Well (W@W)

'White Lilies,' (2019),  25cms h x 25cm w, white slip with sgraffito on black clay with a blue enamel wash.
£250.00 This is for direct sale  - ie no gallery commission and no VAT.

This is part of the group, 'The Garden Growing,' (2019.)  All the pots in the group are signed with my potter's mark, the Women @the Well logo, (W@W,) and dated. See this post for more details of the project.

Contact me via my website, claudiaclare.co.uk if you would like to view or buy the pot.
Payment arrangements are available.