John Moat is an artist whose exquisite work is a living embodiment of the search for integration and balance.Yet he wears his journeyman's sensibility lightly, and a delightful, zestful wit and humour infuse both his writing and painting life.His concern with mythic, gnostic truths reflects his birthplace - India - yet in his descriptions particularly of landscapes and flowers, we see a vivid depiction of the North Devon coast where he has spent the greater part of his life.

John Moat's work has always attracted passionate adherents, including publishers and art collectors, yet he remains - both by accident and design - outside the realms of fashion and the dictates of the marketplace. In this he reflects the separateness, integrity and aversion to clamour that typifies another of his inspirational metaphors - that of the alchemist. Such secrecy, or observance of mystery, feature in all John's work, drawing in the traditional image of the mystic Artifex and Soror. In this, each is making the sign of the secret: but whilst his finger is raised to caution that the mind cannot venture further, hers is beckoning to follow into the unknown.

John Moat was born in India in 1936, and his early artistic gift was recognised at school, where he was awarded the art prize by John Piper. At 18 he worked for a year as a painter in France, learning from the major English draughtsman Edmond Kapp. This early mentoring was to infuse the rest of his working life, though at the time he also faced a crossroads, and decided to devote the rest of his life to writing. He studied English at Oxford, then supported his writing by teaching until, after four years, finding the means to devote himself to writing full time. From the age of 30 he began gradually and then increasingly to paint again, having occasional exhibitions, and illustrating his own books.

In 1968, with John Fairfax, he founded what has become the country's foremost creative writing enterprise, the Arvon Foundation. He has taught creative writing to people of all ages, from university to primary school, alcoholics to children in care. In 1998 he founded Tandem, a teachers' and artists' alliance. He has been a broadcaster, a founder trustee of the Yarner Trust (concerned with training for organic smallholding), a former director of the Environmental Research Association, and the founder of the Extension Trust, a small frontline arts and education charity. For more that 20 years he has written a column for the leading international alternative magazine, Resurgence.

In 1961, at the age of 24, he acquired an isolated property on the North Devon Atlantic coast. In 1965 he was joined by Antoinette. They have lived here ever since. Their life together, the house, the valley, along with their children, Elsbeth and Ben, their animals (house-cow to bees) and their various ventures, have been locus and laboratory to all his work.

"So now I was alive to what I wanted to make, and I understood the experience I must gain if my work was to have an authentic journeyman ring. So that's what I take these things of mine, writings and paintings, to be-each a little gnostic text."


Sue Stewart
Director
Write2B Ltd

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Extension Trust