Julian Stair: Quietus
The Vessel, Death and the Human Body
4 December 2013 – 26 January 2014
Daily 10.00-18.00 (last entry 17.30)
Lightwells & Deadhouse, South Wing
A major solo exhibition of ceramic works by celebrated British artist Julian Stair exploring one of the few life experiences that is universal to all: death.
Quietus addressed the containment of the human body in death, evoking human presence precisely through its absence by questioning the very concepts of ‘body’, ‘vessel’ and ‘death’. Stair’s works invokes notions of classical beauty with their refinement of form and subtly textured exterior, with works ranging from monumental, life-size sarcophagi to petite cinerary urns or burial jars. At the core of Stair’s practice is the belief that pottery, as one of the oldest mediums, can encapsulate the most complex of ideas, through elegant simplicity,
For Stair, this exhibition had both a universal, and deeply personal significance. In one piece the ashes of a friend’s remains are incorporated into a single matt-white vessel, blending the core materials to create a bone-china that is speckled and unique. The metaphor of the vessel as ‘body’ has been prominent throughout much of ceramic history, these containers of death and the deceased become a challenging, but ultimately uplifting way to engage with the emotionally charged issues of death, loss, and the life that precedes both.