Ewart Johns    (1923 – 2013)

Ewart Johns, born in 1923, in Barry, South Wales, was a practising artist until his death in 2013.  From Barry to Cambridge, then London to Exeter, his love of drawing, painting and the broader Arts shaped his early life and enhanced his career at Exeter University.  He combined a university career with work as a freelance artist. The combination of his interest in the practice of art with the study of design, led to his appointment in 1972 as the founding head of the Department of Visual Arts at Lancaster University.  In the 1980s he moved back to Devon (Exeter and then South Brent) to concentrate fully on his own artwork.  His creative life has also involved theatre production and design, writing and music, but primarily he is an artist who has shared his love of exploring line, form and colour during his teaching career, while at the same time producing a very large body of his own works.  Never standing still, Ewart has explored many 20th century artistic developments, and contributed his own originality in a varied way matched by very few other artists.

Ewart Johns exhibited widely throughout Britain, he had four London shows, is represented in the Arts Council’s (Welsh) collection and had a number of public mural commissions. Amongst other locations, his paintings are in the University of Exeter’s Art Collection, several on permanent public display, and a large number of his drawings are in the archives of St John’s College, Cambridge.

A major formative influence was the teaching of Ceri Richards at Cardiff College of Art.  He further developed his artistic abilities and reputation while studying geography at St John’s, Cambridge, and his academic research – chiefly at Exeter – was in Urban Design, and led to a number of publications including a book on British Townscape for Edward Arnold.  The combination of his interest in landscapes, both human and physical, and the practice and study of art and design, enabled an academic career which included Urban Design and the Visual Arts.  A year in the USA, 1969/70 provided the inspiration for a number of works developing the movements of the time.  After retiring from Lancaster University, Ewart worked as a full time artist in Devon.  He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from the University of Plymouth (Dartington College of Art) on 2001.  In his latter years, as his sight deteriorated, he explored other ways of expressing visual concepts, including making sculptures in wood.  Ewart died in February 2013.


1923   Born in Barry, Glamorgan

1942-3  Attended Cardiff College of Art, life drawing classes run by Ceri Richards

1944-7  Attended Cambridge University (St John’s College)

1947  Awarded 1st Class Honours Degree in Geography

1948  Attended Institute of Education, London University, awarded Diploma in Education

1948  Studied painting with Clifford Fishwick at Exeter College of Art

1948-1971 Taught in the Department of Geography, Exeter University

1965  Author/Illustrator of British Townscapes published by Edward Arnold

1972  Appointed as first Head of Department of Visual Arts, Lancaster University

1982  Retired back to Devon, worked from studio in Exeter

1995  Moved to house and studio in South Brent, Devon

2001  Awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Plymouth

2013  Died in South Brent, Devon


Summary of Retrospective Exhibitions

1974   Scott Gallery, Lancaster University

2001   Dartington College of Arts

2001   Fermoy Gallery, The Arts Centre, Kings Lynn

2007   Cube 3 Gallery, University of Plymouth

2008   Ceri Richards Gallery, Taliesin Arts Centre, University of Swansea