Julia McKinlay is an artist, curator and researcher based in Leeds, UK. Her work incorporates material processes that mimic nature, using chemical reactions, heat, and pressure to make installations that represent semi-fictional environments and question the boundaries between nature and the human-made. Previous works have represented the surface of a snail’s shell, an obscure garden and the edge of the world.

She curates Threshold, an open-air space for sculpture in Leeds and is a 0.6 Lecturer in Fine Art at University of Leeds. McKinlay studied BA Fine Art: Sculpture and Environmental Art at the Glasgow School of Art (2009), and MFA Fine Art at The Slade School of Fine Art (2014). She completed her practice-based PhD at Leeds Beckett University in collaboration with Yorkshire Sculpture International in 2022, titled: ‘Acid-Soaked Molluscs: a xenophoric approach to practising sculpture and print’.

Recent exhibitions include A Pair of Lungs with Hiroko Nakajima at Nakanojo Biennale 2023, Gunma, Japan (2023); Leeds Artists Show 2023, Leeds Art Gallery (2023); Figureheads: Members Show 2022, Bloc Projects, Sheffield (2022); Undergrowth, BLANK_ (2021); Scoria, with Jacob Farrell at Threshold (2021); Material Matters, Sunny Bank Mills Gallery (2021); Kuroko, Index Festival, Leeds (2019). Her artist book Feeling the Underside (2019) was published by Yorkshire Sculpture International and Leeds Beckett University. She has participated in residencies at MI-LAB, Japan; METAL, Southend-on-Sea; Joya: arte + ecologia, Spain; Listhus, Iceland; Skaftfell, Iceland. 




2018-2021      PhD by practice with Yorkshire Sculpture International at Leeds Beckett University
2012-2014      MFA Fine Art (Sculpture) at The Slade School of Fine Art
2006-2009      BA Fine Art: Sculpture and Environmental Art at The Glasgow School of Art
2005-2006      Foundation Studies in Art and Design at Leeds College of Art

Solo and Duo Exhibitions 

2023               A Pair of Lungs, with Hiroko Nakajima, Cosmographia Nakanojo Biennale 2023, Gunma, Japan
2022               Acid-Soaked Molluscs, Research Field Station, Broadcasting Tower A, Leeds Beckett University
                       Xenophora II, Sandford Vitrine, London
2021               Scoriawith Jacob Farrell, Threshold, Leeds
                       Undergrowth, BLANK_, Leeds City College, Leeds
2017               Forms and Reticulations, Newcastle University, Newcastle
2016               Blokc, with Lauren WilsonProject Space Wapping, London
                       Swab Art Fair, Barcelona. Exhibition with Anthony Banks, curated by Square Art Projects
2011               Hostile Places, Here Gallery, Bristol
                       Strange New Feelings, with Lily Johnson,Gallery 491, Leytonstone 

Group Exhibitions 

2024              Making Poetry with Solid Objects: Drawing and Sculpture, Komagome Soko, Tokyo (forthcoming June 2024) curated by Hiroko Nakajima, Kazuki Nishinaga and Ayuko Sugiura 
2023              Leeds Artists Show 2023, Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds
2022              Figureheads: Members Show 2023, Bloc Projects, Sheffield curated by Gloam Gallery
2021              Material Matters, curated by Alice Chandler, Sunny Bank Mills, Leeds
2020              Leeds Summer Group Show (Online), curated by court spencer
2019              KurokoGallery House, Index Festival, Leeds
                      Kuroko Part I, Index Festival Hub at Yorkshire House, Leeds
                      Situating Practices, Temporary Contemporary, Huddersfield
2018              MI:LAB Basic Training Programme, CfSHE Gallery, Tokyo 
2017              The Factory, Djúpavík, Iceland
2016              Life of Clay: Experimental practice at Grymsdyke Farm, with Printers' Symphony, RIBA, London
                      Artists' Village, Village Green Festival, METAL, Southend-on-Sea
                      Cacophonia, 7 Lynbrook Grove, London
2015              Oh For You! I Would Do Anything, Tritongatan5, Gothenburg
                      Polyphonie X, 331 Green Lanes, London
                      Broomhill National Sculpture Prize 2015, Broomhill Sculpture Park, Barnstaple
                      Out in the Open, Listhus Gallery, Olafsfjordur, Iceland
                      Re-Launch, UCL Art Museum, London
2014              Hoist, 46 Bavaria Road, London
                      Gazpacho, Slade School of Fine Art, London
                      Slade School of Fine Art Degree Show 2014, Slade School of Fine Art, London
                      Time-based Media, UCL Art Museum, London
2013              Slade Print Fair, Slade School of Fine Art, London
                      Interim Show, Slade School of Fine Art, London
                      habits, cleavages and fractures, The Rock Room, UCL Geology Collections, London
                      Open 2013, Spike Island, Bristol
                      Duet, UCL Art Musuem, London
                      My Beautiful Launderette, 168 Cobourg Road, London
2010              RSA New Contemporaries 2010, The Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh
                      Emergence, Eastwood Theatre Gallery, Glasgow
2009              Ex, Leeds College of Art and Design
                      Drawn Together, Pentagon Gallery, Glasgow
                      Descent into the Maelström, Southside Studios, Glasgow
                      The Glasgow School of Art Degree Show 2009, Mackintosh Museum, The Glasgow School of Art


2020              East Street Arts Virtual Residency
2020              Yorkshire Sculpture International Sculpture Network
2018              Mokuhanga Innovation Laboratory (MI:LAB) Basic Training Programme, Lake Kawaguchi, Japan
                      Time and Space Residency at METAL, with Printers' Symphony, Southend-On-Sea
2017              Joya: arte + ecología, Almeria, Spain
2016              Village Green Festival Artist in Residence, METAL, Southend-on-Sea
                      Degree Show Artists in Residence, with Printers' Symphony, The University of Gloucester, Hardwick         Gallery, Cheltenham. 
2015              Listhus, Iceland
                      Research Residency, Skaftfell, Iceland
2014              Slade Summer School Artist in Residence
2008              University of Hildesheim, Germany 


2021              Arts Fund #3 Commission, Leeds City College
2021              YSI Engagement Commission with Rycroft Community Centre, Wakefield 
2019              YSI Artist Book Commission, Yorkshire Sculpture International, Leeds/Wakefield
2017              NICAP commission to collaborate with poet Joanne Clement on a new permanent artwork for the Newcastle University Law Library
2007              Mural commission at Hotel Bloom, Brussels 


UCL Art Museum
Newcastle University Law Library
Yorkshire Sculpture International
Leeds Beckett University
The Laurence Sterne Trust at Shandy Hall


I am currently a Lecturer in Fine Art in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at University of Leeds. I have previously taught at Leeds Arts University, Leeds Print Workshop and Newcastle University. 


2022             Artist talk, Bath Spa University
2021             Breaking the Mould Study Day, hosted by Arts Council Collection and Djanogly Gallery, Lakeside Arts, University of Nottingham
                     Artist Journeys Conference, hosted by YVAN and Sheffield Hallam University
2020             The Foundation of Art and Science, a British Art Network seminar at Ipswich Museum
2019             Books and Sculpture: Boundary Objects, panel discussion with Ian Jackson and Jenny West at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds
                     Situating Practices, Temporary Contemporary, Huddersfield
2018             Re:Forming Sculpture Summer Symposium, The Hepworth Wakefield and University of Leeds
2016             Symposium: The relevance of print in contemporary art education, hosted by Newcastle University and part of the International Print Biennale, Newcastle upon Tyne
2014             Artist Talk, Slade Summer School, UCL, London
2013             Artist Talk and workshop, UCL Art Society, London


Julia McKinlay, ed., Jacob Farrell, Jacob Farrell: A Snake Shaped Key, (self-published, 2021). Artist book with marginalia by Julia McKinlay.
Julia McKinlay, Victoria Lucas: The Strata of Things, (self-published, 2021). Exhibition catalogue.
Julia McKinlay, ed., Alice Chandler, Alice Chandler: Privet, (self-published, 2021). Exhibition catalogue.
Alice Chandler, ed., Julia McKinlay (contributor), Material Matters (Sunny Bank Mills, 2021). Exhibition catalogue. 
Julia McKinlay, Feeling the Underside, (Leeds: Yorkshire Sculpture International and Leeds Beckett University, 2019). Launched at the Henry Moore Institute 19 September 2019.
Lauren Wilson, ed., Hiroko Nakajima, Julia McKinlay, Eiko Soga, Jon Kipps, Kuroko, (self-published, 2019). Exhibition catalogue.


Arts Council England National Lottery Grant, 2021
Leeds Inspired Small Grant, 2020
CuratorSpace Artist Bursary #7, 2020
Index Festival Core Programme Grant, 2019
Leeds Inspired Small Grant, 2019
Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Grant, 2019
Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Grant, 2018
Broomhill National Sculpture Prize Finalist, 2015
The Peter and Betty McLean Prize, 2014
The Boise Travel Scholarship, 2014
New Collaborations Bursary Award, A-N The Artist’s Information Company, 2014
UCL Art Museum Prize for ‘A Printers Symphony’, 2013


In 2021 I curated Threshold in Leeds. Threshold is an outdoor space for exhibitions of sculpture in the front garden of a back-to-back terraced house in Leeds.

2022             Consultant for Routes North, Messums Harrogate, Harrogate 
                     Consultant for Aggregate 2022, at Freelands Foundation, London
2021             Consultant with Freelands Artist Programme programming online talks and symposium with G39, Cardiff
                     Emii Alrai: Deposition Layer, Threshold, Leeds                     
                     Alice Chandler: Privet, 
Threshold, Leeds
                     Victoria Lucas: The Strata of Things, Threshold, Leeds
2019             KurokoGallery House, The Headrow, Leeds. Part of Index Festival. Exhibiting artists: Jon Kipps, Julia  McKinlay, Hiroko NakajimaEiko SogaLauren Wilson.                             
                     Kuroko Part I, Index Festival Hub, Yorkshire House, Leeds 
2016             The Parade, Fine Art Department, Newcastle University
2015             Polyphonie X, 331 Green Lanes, London. Curated with the other residents of 331 Green Lanes: Jackie  Bogdany, Andy Gomez, Cassandre Greenberg, Miles Umney, and Lee Sullivan.
2013             My Beautiful Launderette, 168 Cobourg Road, London. A group exhibition co-organised with Stuart  Doncaster including work by Andy Gomez, Jon Kipps, Frank Wasser and Lauren Wilson