Dr Julia Kelly, Course Director

Dr Julia Kelly

Course Director

Julia Kelly is a writer and researcher on modern and contemporary art with strong interests and expertise in the histories and theories of sculpture, interactions between art and anthropology, art writing, and the legacies of surrealism. Her publications include the books Art, Ethnography and the Life of Objects, Paris c.1925-1935 (2007), The Sculpture of Bill Woodrow (with Jon Wood, 2013), Giacometti: Critical Essays (with Peter Read, 2009), and Found Sculpture and Photography from Surrealism to Contemporary Art (with Anna Dezeuze, 2013).

Julia Kelly has a degree in Modern Languages from Oxford University, and a PhD on the art writings of surrealist poet and ethnographer Michel Leiris from the Courtauld Institute of Art. She worked at Tate on the exhibition Surrealism: Desire Unbound (2001) and as part of the AHRC Research Centre for Studies of Surrealism and its Legacies at the University of Manchester. She has been a lecturer and researcher at a number of UK higher education institutions, including the Courtauld Institute of Art, the University of Hull, and most recently, Loughborough University.

Research Interests

Julia Kelly is currently exploring some of the different strands of her research interests: in two anthologies of contemporary sculptors’ writings; in essays on the public sculpture of Eduardo Chillida, on sculpture and chance, on the concept of ‘homeless sculpture’ and on the material properties of mandrake roots; and in a wider project on artists’ collections of ethnographic materials.

Dr Julia Kelly, Course Director

Selected Outputs

  • (2017) 'Absolute’, Absurd’, ‘Existentialism’, ‘Leiris, Michel’. Tate, London: Tate Publishing.

  • (2016) Talking Sculpture: Histories of Contemporary Sculpture - Histories in Contemporary Sculpture.

  • Kelly JA (2017) Arp, Sculpture and Surrealism. In: Arp: Influence and Exchange, 1 January 2017, Turner Contemporary.


  • Kelly JA (2017) Colonial and counter-colonial display in surrealism. In: Anatomising the Museum: Contemporary Art and the Decolonisation of Museums, 1 January 2016, Valand Academy, Gothenburg.


  • Kelly JA (2016) Talking sculpture: histories of contemporary art – histories in contemporary art. In: Sculpture Today, 1 November 2016, Polish Sculpture Centre.


  • Kelly JA (2015) Sculpture and Chance. In: Peripheral Alternatives to Rodin in Modern European Sculpture, 1 December 2015, University of Malta.

  • Kelly JA (2015) Eduardo Chillida’s Maritime Imagination. In: Form-Material-Space: Chillida and his Contemporaries, 1 July 2015, Goethe University.

  • Kelly JA (2016) The Ethnographic Turn. In: Hopkins D ed. A Companion to Dada and Surrealism. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 319-333.

  • Kelly JA (2017) Association of Art Historians Annual Conference.

  • Kelly JA (2017) ‘Decolonising artists’ non-western collections’.

  • Kelly JA (2016) Hubert Dalwood’s legacies.

  • Kelly JA (2016) Homeless Sculpture Study Day.

  • Kelly JA (2016) Michael Lyons’ machine sculptures.

  • Kelly JA (2016) 'Tucker’s uncanny figuration'.

  • Kelly JA (2015) Eileen Agar’s Found Sculptures.

  • Kelly JA (2014) Unearthing the Figure.