56 Group Wales:The Founders

Eric Malthouse (1914 - 1997)


Trevor Bates

Eric Malthouse was born in Erdington, near Birmingham, on 20 August 1914. He attended King Edward VI School in Aston, Birmingham, 1927-31, before studying at Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts, 1931-37. He was appointed art master at Salt High Schools, Shipley, Yorkshire, and then after service in the Royal Army Corps he became a lecturer and then senior lecturer at Cardiff College of Art, a post he held until his retirement in 1973. He then moved from Penarth to Cargreen, in Cornwall, but returned permanently to South Wales in 1985.

In 1956 Malthouse was instrumental in forming the 56 Group. It was largely due to his drive, enthusiasm and foresight that he was able to succeed in persuading so many like-minded, talented artists to join the cause.

During the mid to late 1950s Malthouse was to spend an increasing amount of his vacation time in Cornwall, an area he had come to know well since his first visits there in the late 1930s. He began to work on abstract prints and oil paintings, predominately inspired by the fishermen of St Ives.

During his later years Eric Malthouse returned to a more figurative style and painted a series of watercolour scenes around the Barry area, where he had moved to in 1985, three years after the death of his wife Anne Malthouse. He continued to paint right up until his death on 12 April 1997.

The works of Eric Malthouse can be found in the following collections:-

Aberystwyth University; Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales, Cardiff; Cardiff University; Contemporary Arts Society for Wales; Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Merthyr Tydfil; Glamorgan County Council; Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea; National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth; University of Wales Trinity Saint David; University of Exeter; University of Glasgow; other public and private collections.