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Maggi Giles  Biography

The English artist Maggi Giles came to the Netherlands in 1965. A year later she started work in Delft at the Delft Blue Factory designing wall reliefs for public buildings.

It was there that she met Karel Appel who had made a design for the Congressbuilding in The Hague which Maggi Giles executed for him. At the same time she was making 3 dimensional sculptures based on her own drawings. Appel contacted Edie De Wilde, the director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. He wrote to De Wilde: "She makes ceramic toys for grown ups..."
Following this she was given a solo exhibition there in 1970.

Four years later Giles was working as an independant artist in her own studio on the Prinsengracht Amsterdam. Inspired by this location she made canal houses, towers, gateways and castles.
All her work is colourful and right from the beginning she developed the technique that she still uses, that of creating little raised 'walls' to keep the colours separate also creating the effect of black line drawings. With her use of bold colours she has always stood out from other ceramic artists in the Netherlands.

In Maggi Giles work one finds much of her English past. She trained at Bromley Art College, following a drawing course. This is to be found in her little book 'The perfect Planet', published in 1980, two of her stories which she also illustrated.

These are stories of the creation of a special world in which the main character, an embryo-like creature who tries to understand his little world and to organise it. He wonders what is carrying his world and imagines it to be another creature like himself only flatter (because of the weight of the world) and with more legs that carries his world on its back. He then designs squares to contain the sun and sea and mountains and it is in this world he has all sorts of adventures.

Cat chair

The basic elements in these stories appear again and again in Maggi Giles' work. The sculptures of blocks reminds us of the built up world of blocks. In some of the more figurative pieces the little creature acts as an eye in a cat or an elephant for example.

Maggi Giles has been commissioned many times to make work for schools where her fantasy world and use of colour is much appreciated. One of her most recent commissioned works is a huge sculpture for the cruise ship 'De Westendam'. It depiets a big yellow dog with blue ears on a plinth of waves-'Dog at Sea'. She has also created her own animal world and they are - often combinations with other forms, for example 'Elephant Chair' or 'William' a cat on a chair, 1988.
There is seldom work without an element of humour to be seen, in a facial expression or a title -for example 'Members of the Amateur Cat Choir' 1998.
The sea always plays an important roll in her oeuvre, memories of her youth by the sea in Cornwall.

Text: Liesbeth Crommelin with thanks to De Prinsenhof, Delft 2005




Born on 19 March 1938 in Newquay, Cornwall, England. Moves to Kent in 1948.


After attending Secondary Modern School from age 11-15, in 1953 is awarded a scholarship to the Bromley Art School in Kent. Takes 3-year course in 'Drawing and Illustration'.


From age 17 onwards works on illustrations and lay-out in the Sales Promotion office of D.H. Evans fashion store in Oxford Street, London. Does drawings for Harrods fashion shows. In 1959 first exhibition of paintings in England.


Moves to Worthing. Works as sales assistant in Aldridge Brothers art shop/gallery. Later gives lessons and advises on painting and art materials. Paints portraits of clients.


Works as au pair in The Hague. After a few months back in England settles in The Netherlands for good.


Starts work at 'De Porceleyne Fles' in Delft, initially as designer of building ceramics. From 1970 onwards starts making her own ceramic sculptures. 1970 has her first solo exhibition of ceramic work in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.


Moves from Scheveningen to Amsterdam.


Acquires Dutch nationality.


Own studio, lives and works in Amsterdam.


Receives travel grant for Crete from Ministry of Culture, Recreation and Social Welfare (CRM)


Publication of 'The Perfect Planet'.


Visits Thailand and Malaysia.


Visits Jamaica.


Second visit to Thailand.