Claudia Clare

Born 1962

Biography 

Claudia Clare is British artist whose ceramic works explore contemporary social issues, such as migration, feminism and lesbian identity. Clare studied painting at the Camberwell School of Art in the 1980s, before turning to ceramics as an apprentice at Winchcombe Pottery in Gloucestershire in the early 1990s. In 2007 she completed a PhD in Media, Art & Design at the University of Westminster, London. Her experimental, narrative-based ceramic works reflect the impact of major historical events on individuals. Using her artistic practice as a form of activism, she sees her clay pieces ‘both as memorials and as a call for action’. As part of the process of creating some works, she stages performances during which she shatters the pots. She then reassembles the shards, gilding the edges to frame the internal images and emphasise the broken lines. The act of reconstruction is a metaphor for the human experience of trauma and survival which is the theme of much of Clare’s work. In 2011 she co-wrote The Pot Book with ceramic artist Edmund de Waal and in 2016 her second book, Subversive Ceramics, was published by Bloomsbury.

Artwork Information

Wedding Feast (1999)

Claudia Clare created Wedding Feast as a tribute to her friend Rachel and her Albanian partner, Igballe (Igo). Composed of five painterly ceramic pieces, it portrays Rachel and Igo’s wedding in Novi Sad, Serbia, in 1996. The event was an act of lesbian emancipation in a country where same-sex marriage remains illegal. It was also an anti-nationalist statement: two hundred guests travelled from across the Balkans including from contested territories. One of the plates is a tribute to Igo and Rachel, while the other is dedicated to Igo’s mother. The bowl is a patchwork of patterns from across Europe, representing the wedding guests. The goblets refer to the act of eating and socialising at the time when time differences were maintained in Sarajevo, Bosnia. According to Yugoslav writer Ivo Andrić, during this time Bosnian people would ‘wake, rejoice and mourn, feast and fast, by four different calendars’.

Remembering Atefeh (2013)

Remembering Atefeh commemorates the life of an Iranian girl named Atefeh Sahaaleh who was sentenced to death for ‘crimes against chastity’ aged 16 by an Iranian court. Clare hand-built the piece, painting the interior along the way and including an image of Atefeh inside. The portrait, taken from her ID card, remains the only extant image of Atefeh. In 2011, the artist and a group of Iranian friends staged a performance-protest outside the Embassy of Iran in London during which they recited poetry, sang songs and smashed the pot. Clare then collected the shards and reassembled them in the shape of a pot. She left some pieces missing so that viewers of the work can see the image of Atefeh inside. The edges of the gaps are painted in gold to honour Atefeh’s life and attempts to fight the injustices she faced.