Other Lives: New ceramics by Rob Barnard and Julian Stair is on view at Oxford Ceramics Gallery, Oxford
October 8 – November 5, 2022
‘Other Lives’ is a newly curated exhibition produced in collaboration with UK potter Julian Stair and US potter Rob Barnard.
Both makers have created a new body of clay vessels, in their distinctive personal voice but shaped by their mutual interest in the deep tradition of ceramics making, and human rituals in response to death and remembrance.
In an interview recorded with Julian Stair during his ‘Quietus’ project – a major touring exhibition of monumental jars, sarcophagi and cinerary jars in 2012 produced in association with mima, Middlesbrough, National Museum of Wales and Winchester Cathedral, the artist commented:
‘… this is the idea of art engaging with life – if … objects can help to mediate and shape something as profound as a passing of a life, and help those left behind – because in my view it is really to help those people left behind … If [human expression] can do that through music and through words then we should be doing that through objects – through material culture’.
And as Rob Barnard reflects ‘… pottery has expressed, for thousands of years numerous cultures’ most profound feelings, ideas and concerns’.
The two artists originally met in the US in the mid 1980s, when Stair spent a period living and working in rural Virginia. Although their work has a clearly different aesthetic – Barnard’s thrown, white glazed, wood fired vessels showing the influence of Japanese clay work and his study with Kazuo Yagi in the 1970s – Stair’s unglazed but more austere geometries echoing the precepts of European modernism — nevertheless they share a common quest to explore the ways in which ceramics can remain a vital presence in contemporary human culture both through writing and making.
A joint show ‘Termini – A Conversation on Death’ at Cross MacKenzie Gallery in Washington D.C. in 2017 and ‘Inner Lives’ at The Branch Museum of Art and Design in Richmond, Virginia in March 2020 brought their conversation into the public sphere and as Howard Risatti, Emeritus Professor of Contemporary Art and Critical Theory commented: ‘although both artists come from diverse backgrounds … it seems … in their own subtle way, they pose the same question: What is the role of traditional ceramic art in our inner life?’
Oxford Ceramics Gallery is delighted to present this new, exciting body of work by two master potters at the height of their careers which invites all of us into deeper reflection on the way in which clay vessels can act as both metaphorical and physical markers of our human lives.
Julian Stair OBE is one of the UK’s leading ceramic artists who works in London and trained at Camberwell School of Art, completing an M.A. & PhD the Royal College of Art. He has exhibited internationally since 1982 and has work in over 30 public collections including the V&A, British Museum, American Museum of Art & Design, Mashiko Museum of Ceramic Art, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Kolumba Museum. Julian is also a leading historian of English studio ceramics with essays published by the Courtauld Gallery, Tate, Yale Center for British Art, Leeds Art Gallery/Kettles Yard/Dulwich Picture Gallery, Bloomsbury and Routledge.
Rob Barnard is a potter and writer who resides in the Shenandoah Valley. He began studying pottery at the University of Kentucky in 1971 and was a research student at Kyoto University of Fine Arts in Kyoto, Japan from 1974 to 1977, where he studied under the late Kazuo Yagi. He returned to the U.S. in 1978. He has received two Fellowships from the National Endowments for the Arts, one in 1978, the second in 1990. His work is in the collections of the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, the Museum of Arts & Design, the Everson Museum, the Crocker Museum of Art, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Mint Museum.
About the curators
James Fordham, Founding Director of Oxford Ceramics Gallery, is an acknowledged expert in the field of studio ceramics, and regular advisor to both museums and private collectors in the field. Through his work at Oxford Ceramics Gallery he is developing a programme of well-researched 20th century and contemporary ceramic exhibitions which make an active contribution to the development of scholarship, knowledge and understanding in the field.
Amanda Game has enjoyed a 40 year career as an exhibition maker, curator and events producer with a specialist interest in supporting contemporary makers: their thinking and their objects. Following a 21 year career in commercial practice at the Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh (1986 – 2007), Game established an independent studio to foster imaginative exhibition making in both public and private galleries working with clients which include Dovecot Tapestry Studios, Edinburgh; V&A Museum, London; Goldsmiths Centre, London; Jerwood Charitable Foundation; National Museums, Edinburgh; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Two Temple Place, London.
About Oxford Ceramics Gallery
Oxford Ceramics Gallery was set up online in 2006 and opened its doors in Oxford, in 2011. The gallery has a genuine passion for ceramics underpinned by extensive knowledge gained over 25 years, enabling it to offer world class ceramics in an intimate and well-designed viewing environment, placing ceramics within art history.
Oxford Ceramics Gallery
29 Walton St
Oxford, OX2 6AA
Individual works images © Michael Harvey. Installation views © Oxford Atelier. All images are courtesy of Oxford Ceramics Gallery.