Carina Claassens: Clay in Color and Conscience

Born amidst the vivid landscapes of South Africa, Carina Claassens is not just a ceramic artist but a vibrant voice for social change. From her formative years in South African and at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria to her current endeavors in the Netherlands, Carina's journey has been a fusion of creativity and activism.

As the driving force behind Clay Café Nederland, Carina blends her love for clay with a deep-seated commitment to addressing social injustices. Inspired by her African heritage, her creations serve as poignant commentaries on the complexities of our world, challenging societal norms and advocating for change.

Drawing inspiration from her surroundings and the kaleidoscope of cultures that define her upbringing, Carina transforms clay into vibrant pop art pieces, each piece a testament to her unwavering dedication to activism through art. Each piece serves as a testament to her unwavering commitment to bridging tradition with innovation, infusing age-old ceramic techniques with a contemporary flair.

From the streets of Amsterdam to galleries worldwide, her work sparks conversations and ignites passions, shining a light on pressing issues and inspiring action.

In a world hungry for both color and conscience, Carina Claassens stands as a beacon of artistic integrity and social responsibility, using clay as a medium for both expression and activism. At the Tshwane University of Technology to her current endeavors in the Netherlands,

where she has seamlessly woven her South African heritage into the fabric of her creative pursuits. Carina's journey has been a fusion of creativity and activism. Her work transcends mere craftsmanship, transcending the boundaries of culture and geography to evoke a universal sense of wonder and awe.

In a world where art serves as a mirror to the soul, Carina Claassens stands as a beacon of creativity and inspiration, reminding us all of the boundless potential that lies within the humble embrace of clay.

Carina Claassens is an artist who creates ceramic pieces that first and foremost aim to express the natural beauty and properties of clay. Her approach is intuitive and organic, allowing her hands to act as a conduit for the natural expression of each slab of beloved porcelain as it dictates its own metamorphosis from raw clay into the immaculate vessel. No two pieces are ever the same and are handcrafted in ceramic traditions that no machine can ever replicate. Her work is influenced by a range of artists and media, most notably the textile printmaker Mark Hearld and ceramicists at Artmore and Lauren Neuman. African, Native American and Chinese artforms also play a major influence in her craft. Her current work pays homage to her South African heritage through botanical imagery inspired by the flora of Southern Africa.


Carina was born in South Africa and grew up on a beautiful wildlife nature reserve. Blyderiver (Bourkes Luck Potholes). She majored in Fine & Applied Art, where ceramics was one of her majors at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, graduating in 2003.

She is currently based in The Netherlands, where she has been promoting South African visual and performing arts since 2006. Working as Curator/Artistic Director for festivals and films. In 2017 she started the popular Clay Café Nederland in Zaandam inside the Yada Yada Market located on the Hebrugterrein. In Sep 2019! The new studio on a farm in the Achterhoek opened up, where Carina teaches ceramics:


"Claassens creates works rooted in bold memories of a southern African childhood which reflect a deep spiritual reverence for nature, subtly contrasted in the delicacy possible in ceramic. Her feminism is a theme manifested exquisitely in both her functional and purely aesthetic creations. They conjure whimsy and a playful sense of the magical in the eye and heart of the viewer who are drawn to respond physically to the tactile quality of these transformative pieces." - Felicity Simoes


Exhibition history:


  • Zutphen kunstbeurs 14-15 October 2023
  • Open Atelier Borculo & Geesteren 7 & 8 October 2023 
  • Solo show: Wie Benk IK? SENSIRE, Zutphen, 26 May - 26 September 2023. Ceramics & Multi Media (Sold out)


  • 4-6 November 2022: Fira Internacional d'Art de Barcelona, Maratime Museum, Barcelona, Spain  
  • 22 October '22 - 16 February '23: Expositie Hannie Mein Keramiekgalerie, Wolvega 
  • 25 & 26 June: Nederlandse Atelierweekend, Clay Cafe Nederland, Haarlo 
  • 5 & 6 June: Kunstkring Ruurlo, Clay Cafe Nederland, Haarlo
  • June, July, August: Expositie, De Huve, Eibergen




  • Open Atelier Route: Borculo&Geesteren September 2020
  • Kunst in de Voortuin, Achterhoek: Ongoing
  • Clay Cafe Nederland Studio, New work being exhibitd. Aug-Dec 2020
  • Publication:
  • Turbantia Newspaper 2020 & Breath Magazine Issue 21, April 2020
  • Berkelland Nieuws: Wednesday 25 November 2020 


  • RTL 4, Plezier en Passie: Zo gaaf! Carina Claassens met Clay Cafe Nederland reportage zal in het televisieprogramma Plezier & Passie  te zien zijn welke zal worden uitgezonden door RTL op zondag 29 november 2020 om circa 16.00 uur en herhaald op zaterdag 5 december 2020 om circa 14.00 uur en zaterdag 30 januari 2021 om circa 14.00 uur. 


  • Playful Creative Summit: April 2020


  • Clay Cafe Nederland, The Netherlands September & December exposition
  • Finalists at The Hague Global Cinema Festival. The Apricot Tree. Carina Claassens as Artistic Director. 
  • 8 October: nominated by the Norwich Film Festivalfor Best Student Film. Carina Claassens as Artistic Director.
  • 11 October: selected by PöFF Shorts as part of the New Talents Competition.


  • Exhibiting at Yada Yada Market in Zaandam, -September-December
  • Nieuweland, Friesland, Netherlands - 8 July
  • Various nominations and awards for 'Bijltjesdag' film. Carina Claassens was the Artistic Director. 
  • November & December: Working with tranditional Venda Potters at Mukondeni Pottery Village, Venda, South Africa.


  • Clay Café Nederland @ Yada Yada Market in Zaandam, October-November
  • Permanent exhibit of CC ARTS Ceramics at Yada Yada in Zaandam
  • Art Director & Set Styling & Props building: Janieck video
  • ZAHN, Keizersgracht 141, Amsterdam the Netherlands -Nov '17
  • Film Nominations:
    • Bijltjesdag / Day of Reconning:
    • Nominated for Best Art Direction season award at London Lift-Off Film Festival. & Nomination for Oniros for Best Scenography and Best Costume.-Janieq, "Does it Matter": Oniros Film Awards. Carina Claassens for Best Scenography.
    • Janieq, "Does it Matter": Won the award for Best Music Video at TMFF - The Monthly Film Festival


  • AKA: Afrikaanse Kultuurfees Amsterdam, April 2016. Compagnietheater, Rialto Cinema, Melkweg, Zuid-Afrikahuis, Amsterdam, NL. Festival Director.


  • Festival voor Afrikaans, June 2011. Tropentheater, Amsterdam, NL. Artistic Director.


  • Sketchbookproject, USA
  • Festival voor Afrikaans, June 2011. Tropentheater, Amsterdam, NL. Head of PR Marketing and Graphics.


  • Sketchbookproject, USA, Art House Gallery , Atlanta; Brooklyn, NY, 303Grand; Brooklyn, NY , Brooklyn Art Library; Los Angeles, CA, Art and Shelter Gallery at Saint Louis, MO,Soulard Art Market Chicago, IL,Home Gallery.
  • Kunstbeurs, GROTE KERK, ALKMAAR 16-18 April 2010, The Netherlands


  • African Millenials, Lloyed Cultural Embassy, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • ALPOA, artSPACE Gallery, Berlin, Germany


  • Dolmahbace Palace gallery: Instants, Istanbul, Turkey (Launch of Audio Memory Series)
  • Galerie Walls: Thrill & Suspense, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Artstable Gallery: South African Group Exhibition, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Afrovibes, Frascati Theater & Galerie De Chiellerie, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Florence Biennale Revisted in Holand, De Bunker, Den Haag, The Netherlands


  • UbuntuArts: Curating the first group exhibition in Amsterdam of 32 South African Contemporary artist since the early 90’ties. ABC Treehouse Gallery
  • Art Indaba, South African Residancy, Den Haag, The Netherlands
  • ABC Treehouse Gallery: Amsterdam, The Netherland
  • Grote Kerk Oosthuizen: Oosthuizen, The Netherlands
  • Florence Biënnale 2007, Florence, Italy. (Launch of Memory Series)


  • GZ8 Galerie Zuidvliet: Maasluijs, The Netherlands
  • Landgoed Keukenhof Castle Fair: Lisse, The Netherlands


  • Jerry’s: KNSM, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • WG Kunst Galerie: Amsterdam, The Netherlands


  • AISM: Maputo, Mozambique


  • AISM: Maputo, Mozambique
  • Johannesburg Civic Centre: Johannesburg, South-Africa
  • Graduated with B-ccom degree: Fine & Applied Arts. Majored in Ceramics & Printed Image. from TUT University, Pretoria, South Africa

2001 and 2002

  • Polokwane Art Museum: Polokwane, South-Africa
  • Carnaval: TuT University 2001, Pretoria, Zuid-Afrika