Clay and cremated ashes
Julian Stair is one of the UK’s leading ceramic artists. He has exhibited internationally since the 1980s and made his name making beautiful, pared-back everyday forms. Julian’s work is in 30 public collections, including the British Museum and the V&A and he was awarded an OBE in 2022
In March, he launched a fascinating, and deeply moving, new exhibition at the magnificent Sainsbury Centre near Norwich, entitled Art, Death and the Afterlife. The show is his response to the pandemic and the cinerary jars and abstracted figurative forms invite visitors to meditate on the relationship between the clay vessel and the human body. To emphasise the point, in a number of the pots, the clay itself contains the cremated ashes of people donated by their loved ones.
In this episode we discuss: how his new show was shaped by the pandemic; the relationship between the pot and the human body; why pots matter; using people’s ashes to create his work and reflecting their personalities in a vessel; art’s ability to cross boundaries; working against the tides of fashion; the importance of writing and history to his practice; and dealing with the death of his own son.
This series of the podcast – and the Material Matters 2023 fair – is brought to you by the brilliant lighting specialist, Bert Frank.
Meanwhile, this episode has been sponsored by Maak, the specialist auction house and art consultancy dedicated to contemporary ceramics and craft.
Find out more about Julian Stair