In memoriam: Julia Carter Preston
10 January 2012
JULIA CARTER PRESTON
26 January 1926 - 6 January 2012
It is with great sadness that the University reports the death of former student, staff member and Honorary Fellow Julia Carter Preston.
As one of the city's leading contemporary artists and the UK's finest ceramicists, she embodied the talent, spirit and eccentricity of the Liverpool art scene during the latter half of the twentieth century. Her work was characterised by intricately-patterned and lettered designs in sgraffito, which in pottery is a demanding technique that involves incising through the top glaze to reveal a contrasting colour beneath. Clients included the Princess Royal, the late Princess Margaret, Liverpool Cathedral and numerous international collectors. Retrospectives of her work have been held at the Walker Art Gallery and London's V&A Museum.
She attended Blackburne House School and trained at the Liverpool School of Art. Her family were influential in her choice of career. Her father, Edward Carter Preston, was head sculptor at the Liverpool Cathedral for 34 years and was also an accomplished watercolourist. Fellow Liverpool sculptor Herbert Tyson Smith was her uncle and responsible for the sculpted relief panels on the city’s Cenotaph in front of St. George's Hall. Together with Lord Leverhulme, her father and uncle were co-founders of the Liverpool Bluecoat Society of Arts in 1927, and Julia worked from a studio at the Bluecoat for most of her career.
She taught at the Liverpool School of Art, where John Lennon was one of her students and she became an Honorary Fellow of LJMU in 2005, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to art and design.
Both Julia and her husband Michael Pugh Thomas were active and enthusiastic supporters of LJMU, and enjoyed being involved in the life of the University until ill-health curtailed their attendance.
Following Michael's death in March last year, Julia spent her final months peacefully in a nursing home close to their former Canning Street home