Save Harrow Ceramics Campaign - Fight the ignorance!

11 Dec 2008

I set out below the recent press release issued by the Ceramic Students Action Committee. What is particularly sad and even outrageous about this whole situation is the PREMPTIVE ACTION by the Vice Chancellor Professor Petts.  Look at some basic facts:

1. Recruitment of Students has been suspended
2. Students and Staff have been told the course may close – finally in 2013, after the current students complete their courses
3. In 2007 after an horrific fire, Kyra Cane and the staff team put back together a leading edge ceramics environment, which, ignoring building costs, has involved hundreds of thousands of pounds (£’000,000) and enormous effort by students and staff. This will all be dismissed as NOTHING!

Little account has been taken of the fact that this is one of the leading courses for ceramics in Britain! The good Professor notes, in a rather patronising way, I feel, that ”the university is greatly aware of the good work of our ceramics department……….however from time to time the University must consider altering its course offering to continue to meet student demand……….a consultation on the future of the ceramics department is underway”


Below the Press release, included in full are some images of ‘before and after’ showing just what a ‘state of the art’  facility is to be consigned to the rubbish heap in small minded pursuit of short term cost savings!

PLEASE WRITE TO THE VICE CHANCELLOR AND LET HIM HAVE YOUR OWN VIEWS. The more people make their protest, the more chance that this ‘decision’ will be reversed. 

If you are willing to help in any way please write to or email the Vice Chancellor with your views.   If you are prepared  to do this please can you send a copy to the Dean, and also to Course leader, Kyra Cane as we would like students and staff to know what fantastic support we have from the wider world of both Ceramics and Education.

Professor Geoffrey Petts
Vice Chancellor
University of Westminster
309 Regent Street
Sending a copy to both:
Kyra Cane,
Course Leader : Ceramics
University of Westminster, Harrow Campus, Watford Rd, Harrow HA1 3TP

Sally Feldman
Dean of Media Art and Design
University of Westminster
Harrow Campus, Watford Rd, Harrow HA1 3TP


7/12/08 – for immediate release

World renowned ceramic art course on brink of destruction
Students and staff at the internationally renowned ceramic art course based at the former Harrow School of Art, now part of the University of Westminster, have been told that the course is to close.  Recruitment of new students has been suspended in a run down to closure planned for 2013 - the fiftieth anniversary of ceramics teaching at Harrow.   

The university has taken the closure decision despite the national and international reputation of the Harrow ceramics course, its first class academic standing and its huge significance for British art, craft and design.   Its remarkable repository of artistry, path breaking research and cutting edge professional expertise includes Professor Christie Brown, Professor Nigel Wood, Professor Edmund de Waal, Kyra Cane, and Clare Twomey.

Far from its standards being questioned, the ceramics course is consistently praised by its students and the rest of the ceramic art world, and it routinely achieves top research assessment ratings.  It is housed in what the University website advertises as ‘new, purpose built’ premises with ‘dedicated facilities and studios’. However, it is said to pose problems because it takes up too much space.  As a senior manager justifying the course closure said:
                  ‘the trouble with clay is you can’t store it on a memory stick’. Is it possible to make a more ignorant statement!!!
Current students have embarked on a determined campaign to Save Harrow Ceramics and are seeking as much support as possible to stop the closure.  They have unanimously signed a letter of protest to the Vice Chancellor, demanding that the suspension of recruitment be rescinded until proper consultation has taken place and are appealing for letters and emails of support to be sent to the University Vice Chancellor, Government Ministers and MPs.  .  

Westminster Students’ Union is totally behind its ceramics student members in their campaign to preserve the degree.  

Support is also flooding in from ceramic artists, galleries and museums across Britain and around the world.    Alun Graves, Curator of Ceramics and Glass at  the Victoria and Albert Museum has written:
     ‘I am appalled by the proposed closure of the ceramics course at Harrow’
while letters and emails have been received from ceramic artists as far apart as China, Turkey and the United States.  

Jane Cairns, spokesperson for the Ceramics Students Action Committee said:
‘This is an appalling act of cultural vandalism – it is all about balance sheets, square footage and accountancy, not art. It is a betrayal and a disgrace.’*

And this is what it was rebuilt from last year!!!!