Julian Stair (born 1955 in Bristol) is an English potter, academic and writer. He makes groups of work using a variety of materials, from fine glazed porcelain to coarse engineering brick clays. His work ranges in scale from hand-sized cups and teapots to monumental jars at over 6 feet tall and weighing half a ton.
Stair has exhibited internationally over the last 30 years and has work in over twenty public collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum, British Council, American Museum of Art & Design, Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Boymans Museum, Netherlands. In 2004 he was awarded the European Achievement Award by the World Crafts Council for the project Extended Inhumation, and received a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship to research the making of monumental ceramics at Wienerberger’s brick factory in Sedgley. In 2008 the Art Fund purchased Monumental Jar V for Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima).
His most recent project was the solo exhibition Quietus: The Vessel, Death and the Human Body which was commissioned by mima and supported by Arts Council England. The exhibition addresses the containment of the human body in death and features a series of funerary works, from cinerary jars to life-size sarcophagi.
Education and work
Stair studied ceramics at Camberwell School of Art from 1974-1978, and at the Royal College of Art from 1978-1981. He completed a PhD in Critical Writing on English Studio Pottery: 1910-1940 at the Royal College of Art in 2002. He was a trustee of the Crafts Council and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
He lives and works in South London.
Stair is a Principle Research Fellow at the University of Westminster. He was Senior Lecturer at the University of Roehampton, London, (1987-1998); Fellow in Craft & Criticism at Northumbria University, (1998-1999); Research Fellow at the Royal College of Art, (2004); and Senior Research Fellow at University of Arts, London, (2002-2011). He is an alumnus of Cape Farewell, UK, an interdisciplinary programme that explores a sustained artistic response to climate change. He joined the 2008 Disko Bay Expedition, visiting West Greenland with over 40 international artists, journalists and scientists.
He has been a regular contributor to ceramic journals since the mid-1980s. Recent publications include ‘The Employment of Matter: Pottery of the Omega Workshop’, contributing essay to Beyond Bloomsbury: Designs of the Omega Workshop 1913-19, Courtauld Gallery, London.
Selected exhibitions and installations
Stair works to commission. Recent commissions include a group of works for the state apartments at Chatworth House, Derbyshire, a 130-piece installation for a private London client, and several groups for the Hong Kong and Singapore offices of Fidelity Investment.
- 2013 - Quietus, Winchester Cathedral, Winchester, UK
- 2013 - Quietus, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, UK
- 2013 - York Museum, UK
- 2012 - Quietus, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK (touring to National Museum of Wales, Cardiff and Winchester Cathedral)
- 2012 - Curious, West Norwood Cemetery, UK
- 2010 - The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh
- 2006 - Galerie Marianne Heller, Heidelberg, Germany
- 2005 - Terra Keramik, Delft, Netherlands
- 2004 - Collect, Victoria & Albert Museum, London (juried individual exhibitor)
- 2002 - Egg, London
- 2001 - Contemporary Applied Arts, London
- 2000 - Anton Gallery, Washington DC, USA
- 1999 - Lynn Strover Gallery, Cambridge
- 1998 - Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh
- 1997 - Showcase Exhibition, Contemporary Applied Arts, London
- 1988 - Anton Gallery, Washington DC, USA
- 1987 - Anatol Orient, London
- 1987 - Crafts Council Showcase, Institute of Contemporary Art, London
- 1986 - Westminster Gallery, Boston, USA
- 1985 - Anatol Orient, London
- 1984 - Oxford Gallery, Oxford
- 1983 - Katharine House Gallery, Marlborough, UK
Awards and grants
- 2011 - Grant for Quietus, Arts Council England
- 2011 - Finalist, International Triennial of Silicate Arts, Kecskemét, Hungary
- 2008 - Art Fund purchase of Monumental Jar V, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art from COLLECT at the Victoria & Albert Museum
- 2005 - Finalist, Hamlyn Award
- 2004 - European Achievement Award, World Crafts Council
- 2004 - Queen Elizabeth Scholarship
- 2003 - Finalist, World Ceramic Exposition, Seoul, Korea
Selected public collections
- Crafts Council, London, UK
- Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
- Museum of Arts & Design Manhattan, New York, USA
- British Council, UK
- Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands
- Middlebrough Institute of Modern Art, Middlesbrough, UK
- National Museum of Wales, Wales, UK
- York City Art Gallery, York, UK
- Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
- "Studio Launch - Julian Stair / What's On / Crafts Council". craftscouncil.org.uk. 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- "Julian Stair - Biography | Ceramics in the Expanded Field". ceramics-in-the-expanded-field.com. 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- "Monumental Jar V, 2008 by Julian Stair - Adrian Sassoon". adriansassoon.com. 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- Sykes, Alan (20 July 2012). "Death comes to Middlesbrough | UK news | guardian.co.uk". The Guardian (London: GMG). ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- "cc-annual-report_07-08.pdf". pdf.js. 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- "Dying art reveals body of evidence - Art - Yorkshire Post". yorkshirepost.co.uk. 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- "Disko Bay Expedition 2008 - Cape Farewell - The cultural response to climate change". capefarewell.com. 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.