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  • Reliquary for a Common Man, Julian Stair, 2012, Crafts Council Collection (2014.3). Photo: Todd-White Photography

Reliquary for a Common Man by Julian Stair

Chosen by Bryony Windsor, Head of Exhibitions at the National Centre for Craft and Design (NCCD)

We ask makers, curators, designers, creative practitioners and the Crafts Council team to select their favourite object from the Crafts Council Collection and to tell us why.

A stunningly moving and memorable installation

Julian Stair’s work first made its mark on me at The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh in 2008. In the ‘store cupboard’ was a perfectly formed two cup ground; one cup was made from glazed white porcelain contrasting the other in  Etruria Marl - both sat in perfect harmony on a hand-built ground.

I have been fortunate enough to work with Stair’s work ever since and when I saw Legacy: Two Works on Hope and Memory at COLLECT 2014, Reliquary for a Common Man spoke volumes to me. Stair’s work resonates and ideas of how I could bring this work to the National Centre for Craft & Design (NCCD) when I became Head of Exhibitions in July 2014 began to form.

Reliquary for a Common Man, Julian Stair, 2012, Crafts Council Collection (2014.3). Installation image at COLLECT 2014. Photo: Sophie Mutevelian.

Alongside other works from Quietus: The Vessel, Death and the Human Body, Reliquary will be the heart of NCCD’s forthcoming exhibition Cause & Effect, opening on 18th June. Cause & Effect explores artists’ responses to adversity and demonstrates how craft has been used throughout history to give people a voice, offer a creative output in challenging times and rebuild communities, families and lives following a disaster. Stair’s practice embodies this theme and NCCD’s Main Gallery is a beautiful setting for this incredibly personal piece. Stair’s symbolic heavy lead plinth, cinerary jar made with and incorporating Leslie Cox’s cremated remains, surrounded by audio-visual material relating to the artist’s uncle-in-law is a memorial; a stunningly moving and memorable installation and an artwork that speaks to us all. 

Cause & Effect is showing at the National Centre for Craft and Design (NCCD) from 18 June - 18 September 2016.

View this object in Collections Online

Purchase of Reliquary for a Common Man was made possible with support from Gerard and Sarah Griffin and the Art Fund.

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