The Peter Dormer Lecture

“A people’s art is the genesis of their freedom”

The 2020 Peter Dormer Lecture, hosted by the Royal College of Art

A silk dress covered with bright embroidery, some phallic motifs.

Grayson Perry, Coming Out Dress (detail of the dress which was featured in our ‘A Sense of Occasion’ exhibition, 2000). Photo: Rob Weiss

Monday 25th January 2021, 7pm
Recorded online lecture

The 2020 Annual Peter Dormer Lecture was slightly delayed but we we’re really excited that the guest speaker for the first digital version of the lecture was our Director, Deirdre Figueiredo.  The lecture, given to the largest ever audience, was recorded and is available to watch or download the transcript on the Royal College of Art website.

“A people’s art is the genesis of their freedom” Claudia Jones

Civil rights activist Claudia Jones used this as the slogan for the first Notting Hill Carnival, which she organised in 1959, as an act of radical solidarity against racist violence. It harnessed the politics of community lived experience and focused it into a joyful celebration and expression of what it meant to be Black in 1950’s Britain.

This lecture reflected on this slogan 60 years later in the midst of a global pandemic and racial injustice highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Taking this idea as a principle and truth that underpins the work of Craftspace, it demonstrated that creativity through making, no matter how loud or quiet, how individual or collective, is a vital act of resistance and claiming identity.

Screenshot of the lecture.

The Peter Dormer Lecture

Deirdre joins a list of diverse and high profile speakers including Grayson Perry, Richard Wentworth, Martina Margetts and Edmund de Waal. Watch and download summaries of previous lectures on the RCA website.

The Peter Dormer Lecture is the UK’s major annual applied arts lecture, held in memory of Peter Dormer, the writer and critic who died in 1996. Organised by a committee of his friends and colleagues and hosted by the Royal College of Art, the lecture aims to continue the debate about applied art and society that was central to Dormer’s concerns. Peter Dormer’s writings embraced art, architecture, design, technology and education; and his critical and curatorial work helped to promote the crafts into the freeflowing currents of postmodern visual culture. This connectivity is something these lectures celebrate and promote.

Where Next

a row of 7 handmade fabric medals using various patterns and colours

Craft in Common

Craft in Common is a series of five creative online workshops with artist Alinah Azadeh.

the artist, Alinah Azedeh

Achates Philanthropy Prize

Craftspace in a place as part of the National Showcase.

Two people's hands twist long grass together, holding at each end.

Artist: Common Agency Projects (Shane Waltener & Laura Glaser)

Commoning actions in green spaces.

Embroidered Digital Commons

Join artist Ele Carpenter online to create a collective artwork.


We use cookies. By browsing our site you agree to our use of cookies, Find out more