Ward, John

First name: 
Year of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Great Brittain
Year of death: 

John Ward was born in London in 1938.

Camberwell School of Arts & Crafts, London 1966-1970. Moved to Pembrokeshire, Wales 1979

John Ward is regarded as one of Britain's great potters. There is no reference book on contemporary ceramics which does not feature his work. Ward's handbuilt pots are shown on both sides of the Atlantic. A base is pinched out and flattened coils of clay are added to produce hollow forms. These are sometimes altered at the leather-hard stage, by cutting and rejoining to create ridges and grooves between curving surfaces. Finally, they are scrapped and partly burnished with a pebble. John only uses matt glazes and most pots are twice-fired in an electric kiln. The main influences on his work are simple forms of ancient pre-glaze pottery from China and Egypt, early Cypriot pottery and early Persian bowls. More recent influences have been the legendary potters, the late Hans Coper and the late Dame Lucie Rie. The work of Hans Coper for it's formal strength, Lucie Rie for light and colour, and the potter Ian Godfrey for playfulness with form and texture. John Ward passed away in February 2023.

Images: John Ward, portrait (hepworthwakefield museum); John Ward in his workshop (hepworthwakefield museum).

Work of the artist: 

"There is something compelling about the making of pots, regardless of function, which keeps me within the particular sphere; they are the focus of some many interests and associations.  My aim is to make pots which have simple forms with integral decoration and aspects which can interact with the environment in interesting ways; to try and express a balance between these dynamic qualites and a sense of stillness or containment.  Form above all, but expressed through light and colour.  It is not surprising that the green, blue and ochre glazes have properties similar to some of the surface colours and textures of rocks and pebbles where I am living. Being near the sea has probably had an effect on the banded decoration I use, either reflecting the movement of water and waves or the dips and folds of the strata revealed in cliff faces. This in turn has affected form.’’ John Ward


• Thormann, Olaf, Gefäss / Skulptur - Vessel / Sculpture; Keramik / Ceramics seit / since 1946 Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst Leipzig, 2013.

Image source: 

Ochre banded oval pot with cut outs (source:The Stour Gallery).