Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
Commissioned by mima, Quietus: The vessel, death and the human body explored the containment of the human body after death. Featuring cinerary jars and life size sarcophagi, it was the culmination of ten years’ work. Quietus toured across the UK (National Museum of Wales Cardiff, Winchester Cathedral and Somerset House, London) and assumed very different forms in the various venues. Columbarium, a ten-metre tower of cinerary jars, greeted the visitor at mima’s white cube gallery. Almost an abstraction of colour and shape, it heralded Reliquary for a Common Man which was the closing work in the exhibition: a single cinerary jar made with, and housing, the ashes of a close family member.
10 metre-high Columbarium features 130 cinerary jars thrown in a variety of clays including porcelain, basalt and stoneware.
Columbarium (..a group resting place for human remains contained in vessels..) was ten meters high at mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, and contained 130 cinerary urns thrown in a variety of clays: porcelain, Wedgwood’s basalt, and stoneware .. the installation soars powerfully to the ceiling—a momentum of death ascending into heaven or the universe.. and .. each lidded pot is an independent artwork in itself.. imbued with its own creational sensitivity, distinct and poetic but never assertive, in a manner appropriate to its solemn role …... the closer one gets to the Columbarium the better it gets and the more the fundamental power of the individual pots takes over.
Garth Clark, Editor CFile
This group of work contains the most technically challenging forms. Evoking the containment of the body in death with an unsparing immediacy, sarcophagi for both adults and children were made at a series of brick factories and fired in industrial kilns. Some took over six months to complete.
This gallery featured monumental burial jars, hand thrown over many weeks using Etrurial Marl and Carboniferous Shale.
Les Cox Super 8
Lesley Cox film and audio-visual material
A single cinerary jar on a lead plinth stands at the centre of this room, framed by audio-visual material relating to the life of one individual, Lesley James Cox. The bone china jar contains and is made from his ashes.
“The ideas contained within a single vessel are unpacked so vividly, personally and affectingly....With this individual work at the end of the exhibition we are brought back full circle to the starting point..Columbarium..as we recognize most fully the individual amongst the collective.”
James Beighton, Curator mima
National Museum Wales
The National Museum Wales at Cardiff was the ideal location to explore the historical and cultural context of funerary ware. The extensive archaeological collection, including Bronze Age and Roman pottery vessels associated with interred and cremated remains, informed the display of Quietus: decoding Bronze Age cinerary urns and re-animating prehistoric ritual.
Winchester Cathedral provided a 1,000 year-old context for rites of passage around death through burial and cremation. Exhibiting Quietus here utilised the Gothic architecture, the numerous tombs and chapels with sarcophagi and mortuary chests. Julian’s work ranged throughout the cathedral, responding to the rich variety of space and design. The monumental scale of Quietus gained a new power and there were instances of great resonance between the material of the objects and the fabric of the building. In particular the opportunity to site work on the 13th century encaustic tiled floor highlighted the shared use of materials.
At the Deadhouse in Somerset House Quietus was re-configured in an underground, catacomb-like space that contained Jacobean graves and in this setting gained an unprecedented intimacy and sensuality.
“The enormity of this achievement is difficult to encapsulate in language. [Quietus] gives so much gravitas to potters and pottery, to the medium’s atavistic power that is enmeshed in its key role in human survival and civilization and it’s ancient and iconic place in creation myths, life, death, and the hereafter.”
Garth Clark, Editor CFile
Making of Quietus
Julian received a major Arts Council grant to produce the monumental work for Quietus in three different brick factories in the UK and Denmark. Working with a dedicated team of studio assistants and volunteers, the project combined both studio and industrial practice and took over two years to complete. With thanks to Ibstock Brick Ltd and Petersen Tegl.