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John Maltby

John Maltby (1938- 2020) trained initially as a sculptor, studying at Leicester College of Art and Goldsmiths’ College, before becoming apprenticed to David Leach in Devon. Subsequently he produced domestic wares at his workshop in nearby Crediton, before developing more individual pieces which he richly and abstracted decorated, working as much as a painter as a potter, producing a variety of essentially functional forms, but innovative in shape, and combining throwing with building. As well as being more sculptural in nature, his surface painting was influenced stylistically by artists such as Paul Klee and Picasso. Although his earliest work was quite ‘Leachian’ in style and ethos, Maltby’s mature sources lay principally in art and artists outside the world of ceramics.

In later life he suffered ill health which led him to concentrate purely on hand-building. Developing in part from his playful wooden mobiles, these monochrome-glazed figurative pieces depicted a magical cast of birds and beasts, kings and angels that drew on his love of fable and folklore, medieval art and other material. In a sense he had turned full circle, returning to his sculptural roots, but still through the medium of clay and its endless possibilities.

David Whiting

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