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.
Photos from top: 1- Studio Twelve, 2 and 3 - Deb Ball, 3,4 and 5 - Claudia Clare

Friday 11 October 2019

And The Door Opened, ceramic project with Women @the Well, (W@W) ***Covid19 intermission*** Events postponed until 2021. Watch this space for pop-up events in late 2020.

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: 

Postponement to March 2021 expected depending on social distancing situation:
Ceramic ArtLondon, Central St Martins, Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, London, N1C 4AA
'And The Door Opened' is part of the Claytalks lecture series.

Postponement to 2021 expected, or possibly later in 2020: readings and pot smashing ceremony at Wood Green Library, 191 High Road, Wood Green, N22 6XD as part of Women’s History Month.

Postponed until 2021 - same dates expected: 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.

Postponed to 2021: Major event being planned for the end of September with St. Botolph's without Aldgate and Beyond The Streets. Updates as they come - discussion in progress. 

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.

Postponed until 2021: Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge, London SE1 9DA
Display of pots -no date set but last communication was that postponement was definite. This is not a cancellation.

Updates on this when I get them: Filia Conference, Portsmouth, 2021 
Display of And The Door Opened pots.

Updates when I get them: And the Door Opened will continue in 2021 in Stoke on Trent, Bradford and Leeds.

Past Events 2020:

Jan 23rd 2020: Talking about 'And The Door Opened,' at Zuleika.
Informal talk, discussing the project with Q&A. 

Jan 14th-31st 2020 Zuleika Gallery, 6 Mason's Yard, London, SW1Y 6BU
Display of four pots from 'And The Door Opened,' as part of a gallery artists show, 'January Edit.'  Zuleika's official launch of the project

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.