Eric Malthouse was born in Erdington, Birmingham and studied at Birmingham College of Arts & Crafts from 1931 to 1937. He was the art master at Salt High Schools at Saltaire, Shipley, Yorkshire from 1938 to 1939 before spending two years in the Royal Armoured Corps. He was appointed Lecturer and later Senior Lecturer at Cardiff College of Art (1944-73) and was a founder member of the “South Wales Group” (1949) and of the “56 Group Wales” (1956-70).
His important early work was Surrealist and his connection with Cornwall dates from the outbreak of the second world war in 1939 when he was producing landscapes around Mullion Cove. In 1952 he produced his pigeon paintings. It was not until 1955 when he was back in Cornwall that he began, after a series of ‘St. Ives Fishermen’, paintings, the St. Ives ‘Rock Pools’, which were the foundation of his work as a non-figurative painter. These ‘Rock Pool’ paintings, together with the earlier series of paintings of the ‘Flight of Pigeons’, were concerned with a close analysis of colour and a rigorous concern with spatial composition. In 1959 his work became completely non-figurative.
Malthouse had been involved in printmaking since his student days and this became an increasingly important component of his work in Llandaff up to 1963 and subsequently in Penarth . In 1973 he moved to back to Cargreen in Cornwall where he continued his work with non-figurative oils and prints at his studio in Cargreen. In 1981 he moved to Keynsham near Bristol and following the death of his wife, Anne, he moved back to Barry in 1995. There he began a series of watercolours of scenes around Barry which he continued until he died in 1997.