Julia Rowntree

Principal projects



Founding Co-Director with Duncan Hooson, subsequently joined by Claire West

Clayground Collective are creative producers combining participatory public art, education and research. In response to an acute decline of clay studies in schools and colleges and of hand skills more widely in society, we embarked on a series of creative projects to re-engage the public with this universal and abundant material.

Working in over 14 cities since 2007, the company has engaged over 100,000 people in clay and making.  Commissions to poets, musicians, other clay artists, collaborations with scientists, surgeons, environmentalists, schools, libraries, museums and galleries, has extended interest in clay and the significance of hand skills beyond the studio.

Following my role as producing Co-Director, I currently focus on work with Clayground Associate, Thames Archaeologist, Mike Webber.

Link to Clayground Collective.


LIFT is London's biennial international festival of theatre. Every two years since 1981, LIFT has commissioned and presented theatre from around the world and the UK "that is daring, relevant and unforgettable.  The festival advances contemporary thought, introduces new forms and ideas and offers new ways of experiencing art." Link to today's LIFT Festival.

Director, Business Arts Forum 1995-2006

Following my role as Development Director, I led an experiment over 10 years to discover what people in business might have to learn from the theatre and the young people involved in LIFT's learning programme.  This was the starting point for the LIFT Business Arts Forum, set up in association with the Financial Times, which brought business leaders, young people and artists together to learn from the theatre on equal terms. Rather than looking for direct commercial benefits, business and public sector participants sought to learn about the rapidly changing external world which would come to impact their own.  The programme influenced many individuals, LIFT as an organsation and generated significant funds for LIFT.

LIFT Development Director 1986-1995

I joined LIFT at a point when free market ideology was in the ascendancy.  Arts organisations were encouraged to look to business sponsorship to diversify  income.  With colleagues, I set up the business sponsorship campaign from scratch and evolved it over 10 years.  We primarily built on companies' directly commercial motivations to generate sponsorship for the programme in exchange for publicity and entertainment benefits.

Awards and Fellowships:

Clayground Collective: National Craft Skills Award 2013

In recognition of commitment to excellence in craft skills, success, ambition, exemplary and imaginative approaches in passing on craft skills.

National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts: Fellowship 2001-2003

Writing and research into cross-sector, intergenerational and intercultural arts collaborations in India, South Africa, USA. Programming LIFT Lecture series: Imagining a Cultural Commons. 

Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship 1997

Research in USA into cross-sector collaborations, complexity theory and role of arts in learning.

Garrett Award for Outstanding Achievement in Arts and Business 1987