Claudia Clare

I make clay pots to tell stories. Feminism shapes the decisions I make about which stories to tell and how to research them and brings a sense of intimacy and a respect for the everyday to the stories I work with and to the political issues they illuminate.

I trained as painter, originally, and then turned to ceramics for both formal and narrative reasons. Painting on the curved surface, where the edges are defined only by the base of the vessel and by its opening at the top, was far more enticing than the edges of the picture frame. The narrative possibilities of the ceramic forms – their social, political, historic and human associations – are immensely generative and have proved to be fertile ground for exploration.

My pots are handbuilt, using the coil method. I then paint them with coloured slips and glaze them. Each pot has at least three firings – the third is for the lustre and enamels. Drawing and painting, play a significant part in the making process. Snapshot photography from my phone is now helping me to record some of the most intimate and fleeting moments, providing images which my memory alone might discard.

While maintaining a profound interest in the big events that shape our time, it is the impact of these events on the everyday that inspires the pots: I am more interested in the effect of a revolution on families and shop-keepers than on the fighting, flames and televisual drama engulfing the streets. I break some my pots during the making-process and restore them after the final firing. These broken and mended works are a response to the most traumatic narratives I encounter – often reported in the words, ‘I was shattered.’ The mending process is important; it serves as a simple metaphor for survival.

Clay pots are good at sustaining the memory of marginalised social stories: they are our museum pieces and archaeological evidence. As part of our everyday lives they are easily recognised and understood. In these two ways, clay pots can function both as memorials and as a call for action.

Claudia Clare trained as a painter at Camberwell in the early 1980s, went on to do an apprenticeship at Winchcombe Pottery in Gloucestershire in 1990, and completed a PhD in ceramics at the University of Westminster in 2007.

She has published widely on ceramics, has been a regular contributor to Ceramic Review since 1997, and, in 2011, brought out ‘The Pot Book,’ (Phaidon, UK), with Edmund de Waal. Claudia’s work is featured in numerous publications including Emmanuel Cooper’s, ‘Contemporary Ceramics,’ (Thames & Hudson 2009) and Paul Scott’s, ‘Ceramics and Print,’ (A&C Black, 2012). In 1987 she won a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust award to study at the International Ceramics Centre at Kecskemet, and, in 2002, a Churchill Travel Fellowship funded research into large-scale ceramics in Iran, Turkey and Uzbekistan.

Claudia has exhibited extensively throughout the UK and in Europe, including residencies in Kecskemet, Hungary and Guldagergaard, Denmark. She is represented by Francis Kyle Gallery.

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