Julian Stair

Born 1955, Bristol, England

Julian Stair’s works are often described as minimalist. His pieces are noted for their restrained decoration, the elimination of unnecessary details and the use of a muted colour palette. Julian is interested in the place of pottery in contemporary culture and in the ideas of function rather than in the concepts of abstraction and emptiness. The shapes, surfaces and decoration, or rather the lack of it, all suggest the possibility of use, if not its reality. Stair’s cups and teapots are not intended to remain forever on their grounds, or pedestals, but rather the grounds are a home for the cups from which they are removed and returned. Thus this removal from and return to the grounds becomes part of the ritual of their use and plays on the banality of the teacup and the sacredness of the ceremonial cup.

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Working in London

1974-1978   Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, London, BA Ceramics
1978-1981   Royal College of Art, London, MA Ceramics
1998-1999   Fellow in Craft and Criticism, University of Northumbria at Newcastle
2002             Royal College of Art, London, PhD: Critical Writing in British Studio Ceramics

Julian’s work echoes the minimalism of the 1960s in that it can be described as having no internal composition, is a function of the space it inhabits and has a hint of the prototype about it. Julian also draws on the still life, a genre artists have used traditionally to comment on everyday life and in which every element had a meaning known to both the artist and the viewer. Stair’s use of the cup with its connotations of consumption allied to its placement on a pedestal perhaps says something about the sacredness of consumption in contemporary life.

Julian Stair has work in the following public collections:

Aberystwyth University Ceramic Collection & Archive, Wales
Abingdon County Hall Museum, Abingdon
British Council
British Museum, London
Cleveland Crafts Centre, Middlesbrough
Crafts Council, London
Contemporary Art Society, London
Gallery Oldham, Manchester
Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea
Hove Museum & Art Gallery, Hove
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Middlesbrough
National Museum & Gallery of Wales, Cardiff
Paisley Museum & Art Gallery, Paisley
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich
Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead
Stoke-On-Trent Museum, Stoke-On-Trent
The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
York City Art Gallery, York
Boymans Van Beuningen Stichting Museum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Grassi Museum, Leipzig, Germany
Kolumba Museum, Cologne, Germany
Hong Kong Museum of Art, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Mashiko Museum of Ceramic Art, Mashiko, Japan
Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
The Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
Museum of Arts and Design, New York, USA
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA

Selected Press - Julian Stair