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John Maltby

The Artist and his Work

Author: Susan Whelan/Monday, January 23, 2017/Categories: The Bailey Collection

John Maltby, one of Britain's most respected and versatile artists, has been working in clay for over 50 years. Born in 1936 in Lincolnshire, UK, he studied sculpture at the Leicester College of Art and at Goldsmith’s College in London. For two years afterward, he taught painting at a small private boys school where he met his future wife, Heather.

After reading Bernard Leach’s classic, “A Potter’s Book”, John arranged to visit the author. Bernard advised him to work with his son, David Leach at Lowerdown Pottery in Bovey Tracey, Devon. In 1962 John Maltby began working and learning the craft of studio pottery from David Leach in Bovey Tracey.

John Maltby started his own workshop at Stonehill, Devon in 1964. For two years he concentrated on domestic studio wares in the anglo-oriental Leach tradition. Upon reflection, over these years he came to realize that he didn’t identify with the ceramic traditions of the East. He was much more excited by the European modern movement, especially Picasso, Klee, Moore, and Ben Nicholson, as well as primitive painter Alfred Wallis.

Image via Maak Contemporary Ceramics

Thus began an exciting new phase in his work. His thrown work became the canvas for clever abstract paintings. By the 1990s the ceramic forms had become more sculptural hand built pieces, each a platform for expressive modern designs. While still creating domestic ware, each piece was a one of a kind work of art.

Image via Maak Contemporary Ceramics

A period of illness in 1996 forced John Maltby out of his studio and onto the kitchen table. He began making small sculptures that he found liberating. Without the constraints of functionality, he felt that the images and ideas could be expressed more freely and completely. These sculptures have evolved to be powerful objects of storytelling evoking kings and queens, ancient cultures, symbolic animals and creatures, modern society and current affairs. They are full of character and humor.

Image via Pyramid Gallery

John Maltby is widely collected in public and private collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Maltby exhibits both in the UK and internationally. His local gallery, Lantic Gallery in Devon, (LINK: http://www.lanticgallery.co.uk/artists/maltby/} is where you will find his recent work. 

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