John Maltby was born on the East coast of England (a factor which continues to play a major part in his work). He studied sculpture and then pottery with David Leach, but his work is in fact, quite different form the Leach tradition. John draws influences primarily from sources of English painting, music and sculpture. He admires particularly the works of Alfred Wallis (the Cornish primitive painter), Ben Nicholson and Henry Moore.
For the past twenty-five year as he has worked in Devon, venturing out occasionally to teach and lecture in England and abroad. He exhibits widely and has work in major collections.
“Looking back on them now with hindsight, my pots seem to have been placed firmly in the ‘studio’ pottery tradition pioneered by Bernard Leech. The emphasis was on craft skills, but with an ever-developing awareness that the ‘uniqueness’ of the work, (which made it unconsciously personal rather than anonymously part of a developing craft tradition), was the most important aspect of it, something Bernard Leech might well have argued against but which is so strikingly apparent in his own work. I try to draw inspiration for form and decoration particularly from my English roots, from the climate and the landscape, and the ‘vessel’ forms (mainly jugs and vases) seemed at the time satisfactorily appropriate.
However, in 1996, as a result of an illness, I was unable to continue in this direction and was forced to rethink my ways of trying to express my ‘Englishness’. The work inevitably has to be of a small scale (a very English characteristic anyway) and I hope it draws on the skills and fluency acquired over many years working in the studio tradition mentioned but it is no longer tied to the vessel form and I have found this the most profound liberation. Constraints of function (no matter how vestigial in my previous work) are no longer present and it now seems that there are no aspects of my human situation which cannot be the subject of my work.”
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