Julian Grater - Hypergallery

Julian Grater

Julian Grater is an extremely talented painter whose work, by chance, has graced the cover of an album of particularly fine music by Peter Gabriel.

Born in Kent in 1959, he went from Falmouth School of Art in 1981 to an MA at Chelsea School of Art three years later. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Julian’s work featured in exhibitions around the UK and the world, showing his drawings, prints and paintings in Japan, Sweden, Australia, France, Estonia and New York.

He developed an interest in the imagery of the Northern Hemisphere and in 2000 travelled to Norway to visit the Global Seed Vault at Longyearbyen. His subsequent work has been strongly influenced by that visit and in 2016 he was invited to be Artist in Residence for the Scott Polar Research Institute.

Travelling from Oslo, via the harbour in Longyearbyen, Julian’s journey on the ice-breaker, Akademik Sergei Vavilov, took him within spitting distance of the North Pole.

Julian on the icebreaker

On-board he was allocated a laboratory, morphed into a studio where he worked. Inspired by the the forces of nature in this extreme environment, he captured the magnificence of the icebergs and glaciers and the fizzing and cracking surface of the sea.

Julian in the studio
Julian in the studio

“I see the icebergs of my own work as the manifestation of a death event. They often appear dark and melancholic, not by accident, but by specific intent, and I'll often hunt out this apparent visual contradiction. They are at once monumental, awesome and funereal, they lie prone subjected to the laws of entropy, or they contradict their mass by appearing to levitate in eerie and ghostly fata morgana. So, I became interested in the mirage, the phantom berg, the notion that something somewhere has bent the light and wishes to exist where it is not.”



Painting by Julian Grater

 Julian’s interest in the polar regions continued with exhibitions in 2018/2019.


Julian Grater’s first major solo exhibition took place at the Artsite Gallery in Bath in 1989, featuring an eight part series of self-portraits entitled Self Images.

Artsite’s owner Sean Kelly, a friend of Peter Gabriel, suggested to Peter that he should visit the exhibition. This was serendipitous as Peter had composed the music for Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Temptation of Christ and was in the process of developing that music for a new album called ‘Passion’. At the exhibition he found the allusive thing he had been looking for; an artwork for the cover of the album.

Julian remembers the visit and the purchase of the artwork,

“I was overwhelmed…… Scorsese/Gabriel…. who wouldn’t be!..... I had always been a fan of albums such as The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and his subsequent solo career and of course when Real World started. Peter was also incredibly supportive of visual artists, and after Passion carried on this support in additional projects”.

The album was a landmark in the popularisation of world music. Its cover artwork was awarded album cover of the year in 1989 and the album won a Grammy award in 1990.