An unusual row has broken out at the Craft Potters Association (CPA), the body that represents Britain’s best ceramic artists and which is part of the British craft establishment. They recently decided to cancel their invitation to Claudia Clare (above) to display her ceramics and give a talk at Ceramic Art London (CAL), the big ceramic exhibition that they put on each year.
I know Claudia well, having first met her as a fellow-student on the Harrow ceramics course, and I’ve always respected her integrity, her ability as an artist and her independence of thought. The CPA also respect her, having selected her as a member, an honour given to few potters. My understanding of the circumstances surrounding Claudia’s cancellation is this. She was invited in 2020 to give a talk at CAL and to display her ceramics about women forced into prostitution and their way out of it, an installation supported by the Arts Council. The invitation was postponed because of COVID and was scheduled for this year.
Recently a threat was made to her display at CAL, not to Claudia but to the Craft Potters Association. The Association haven’t communicated the details to her, but they told her that they have now decided to cancel the invitation. Claudia’s enquiries indicate that the threats were made by people who disagree with her views about sex workers.
Claudia never shrinks from controversy but in this case her point of view is hardly controversial. Some people obviously disagree with it, in which case they’re free to argue their case; but if the Craft Potters Association have received threats of violence I would think that the right course of action is to report them to the police and to provide adequate security at the event, not to tell the exhibitor that she can’t appear. I’ve written to Peter Snowden, the Chairperson of the CPA, to tell him that. There’s a petition here if anyone wants to support Claudia and artistic freedom of expression.