Reliquary for a Common Man by Julian Stair

Born in Bristol in 1955, Julian Stair is an English potter, academic and writer.


Details

Medium:
I) bone china jar made from Leslie James Cox's ashes; ii) lead covered plinth; iii) super 8 film; iv) video slides; v) audio files
Dimensions:
I)16.6 x 17 cm; ii) 10.7 x 60 x 60 cm; iii) 49s; iv) 3m 20s; v) 10m 29s
Art Fund grant:
£10,000 ( Total: £40,500)
Acquired in:
2014
Vendor:
Julian Stair

He creates groups of works using materials from fine porcelain to engineering clays, ranging in scale from hand-sized cups to monumental jars. His works are often described as minimalist, noted for their restrained decoration and muted colours. He created Reliquary for a Common Man as a memorial to his uncle-in-law, Leslie Cox. It was the final and pivotal piece in Stair’s recent exhibition ‘Quietus: The Vessel, Death and the Human Body’, an exploration of the rituals of death and the role played in them by ceramic vessels. A multimedia installation, this is the first of his works to incorporate audiovisual materials – not as works of art in themselves, but as documentary elements to support his ceramic pieces. It brings together an audio interview of Cox discussing his family and politics, a Super 8 video showing him enjoying life, and a sequence of photographs ranging from his childhood to shortly before his death. At the heart of the installation, stood on a metre-tall lead plinth, sits a squat bone jar: an urn that not only contains Cox’s ashes but incorporates them into its clay. While the work is very much about an individual, Stair’s intention was for Cox to represent ‘everyman’ in a memorial that celebrated life, rather than simply mourning loss.

Provenance

The artist.

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