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John Ward (British, 1938-2023)

A Tribute

Some very sad news came last month with the death of John Ward at the age of 84.

One of Britain’s foremost studio potters, John Ward built up a remarkable body of work characterised by slow, methodical hand-building, and a concern for the sculptural qualities of a pot. His practice focused on the marriage of glaze and form, working within a limited palette of matt glazes and evolving forms to produce subtle variations.

Writing in an obituary for The Guardian, Emma Crichton-Miller provides an overview to his life and career that highlights that his path into ceramics was not an obvious one. After falling in love with ceramics through evening pottery classes and visits to the British Museum, he started his foundation course at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts at the age of 28. After graduating Ward taught for some years, before moving to Pembrokeshire and devoting himself full-time to making.

Though Ward is recognised as a leading figure in British Studio Ceramics, there was a real lack of critical material written about Ward, up until the publication of Emma Crichton- Miller’s book at the end of last year. Supported in its publication by the Maak Foundation, ‘The Pottery of John Ward’ was the first book to survey Ward’s life and work, and goes some way to redressing this imbalance.

Wards pots with their ‘refinement and otherworldly poise’ have inspired devoted admirers and collectors. His works have continued to find new audiences, with the market and popularity of his works growing in recent years. Maak are, and will continue to be, so privileged to have his wonderful works pass through our hands.


'My pots offer a space that can be used in whatever way the owner would like or can just be left to reflect the changing light and resonate with their surroundings; for no pot is an 'island, entire of itself', but exists within its relationships.' - John Ward

Interior shot of a black and white stoneware vessel made by John Ward sold at auction by Maak

For more information on ‘The Pottery of John Ward’, including a panel discussion with Emma Crichton-Miller, Julian Stair, Grant Gibson & Marijke Varrall-Jones, see here.

A white and green stoneware vessel made by John Ward in circa 1995 sold at auction by Maak Contemporary Ceramics
An ochre stoneware vessel made by John Ward in 2012 sold at auction by Maak Contemporary Ceramics

A black and white stoneware bowl made by John Ward in 2015 sold at auction by Maak Contemporary Ceramics
A green and brown stoneware pot made by John Ward in circa 1985 sold at auction by Maak Contemporary Ceramics

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