John Miller was a kind and generous patron to many good causes, frequently supporting museums, churches and schools by the donation of paintings that could be auctioned, raffled or sold on behalf of the relevant mission. Taking an essentially religious perspective on life, John played a significant pastoral role in Anglican activities in Cornwall in later years.
Arriving in Cornwall in the 1950s with his long-time friend, colleague and partner Michael Truscott, John's architectural skills were immediately put to use in the re-design and adaptations made to the Newlyn Art Gallery. His style in painting changed dramatically over time, from early figurative landscapes of great beauty and detail to later abstract sea and landscapes of vivid blocks of colour depicting the horizon where the sea meets the sky.
An extensive collection of his work was donated by his estate, after his death in 2002, to be housed in the Sunrise Centre at Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, 15 of which are illustrated in the Public Foundation Catalogue review of work by artists held in public collections (pp165-7). All of the illustrated works are untitled and represent his style in later life.
John was a lay canon at Truro Cathedral, and the creator of the large mural painting there: Cornubia-Land of the Saints.
His work was extremely popular, and he had many imitators. It was not unusual to find a John Miller seascape on the back wall of a soap show such as Coronation Street, or a china mug at a local coffee shop.
Architect, painter, author
works and access
Works incl: Sunrise of Hope (oil on canvas) at SMH; Mount's Bay Impression (1992), and The Church between the Trees, both at Penlee House; Penzance over the Moors (oil on canvas) at Cornwall Council; Trenarren is at RCM, Truro; Summer Beach Artist Cat no 3507KJ (illus WH Lane sales 2010)
NAG: Newlyn in Pont Aven 1977; Looking West 1987; A Century of Art in Cornwall 1989
1986: RCM & RIC Three Spires Festival Exhibition of Paintings, Sculpture and Pottery, Truro (Opening of the RCM or County Art Gallery, by the Royal Institution of Cornwall)
Major solo exhibition, NAG, 1978
2004: WCAA Founding Art Auction (Donor: M Truscott) Queens Hotel, Penzance, April
Numerous mixed and solo shows nationally
2012: 'Effortless Brushstrokes', Falmouth Art Gallery 11 Feb - 14 Apr
NSA (Chairman) 1964-5, 1967-71;1972-3 list; 1995 list
misc further info
Personal publications: Leave Tomorrow Behind, Studio Fine Arts Publ, London 1989
Brittain, Sarah and Cook, Simon (2001) Behind the Canvas, 40 Artists working in West Cornwall;
Buckman Artists in Britain since 1945
Hardie (1995) 100 Years/Diary Architectural drawings of Newlyn Gallery renovations p7; (see index for many refs)
Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly: Oil Paintings in Public Ownership
McLeod, Alister J (1973) Newlyn Society of Artists 1895-1973 (NAG 12 page brochure)
W H Lane Auction Sales Catalogue, 2 Dec 2010