Steve Maybury

Steve Maybury 1984

Steve Maybury sadly died on 14 December 2017, aged 67. Bob Pomfret remembers his life.

Originally from Chester, Steve found his way to Oxford in pursuit of love. His girlfriend, Louisa, whom he later married, had travelled south to study at Lady Spencer Churchill College at Wheatley in 1973. Steve came along shortly after and found work at Oxford Polytechnic as a technician supporting the Art Foundation programme. He was a skilled printmaker and began to teach printmaking as part of the course.

That was his first brush with Oxford Poly/Brookes. For a while in the late seventies he and Louisa worked out in India for Oasis trading. Steve was overseeing production of jewellery and clothing ranges, using his skills in block printing, at factories in Jaipur and Delhi. Steve loved his time in India. He was already a skilled artist and photographer and he built up a portfolio of evocative images of life in India at that time. He and Louisa were both captivated by the art and imagery they discovered, and later when they started their own wholesale design business in the early 90’s, the style and artistry of Eastern design was hugely influential.

He returned twice more to Oxford Poly, first to work in the School of Architecture, where he worked closely with photographic technician Iraj Parvaneh, and then in the early 80’s, in the newly opened Educational Methods Unit (EMU) where he established a design team that, through a variety of incarnations, continues today as Design and Media Services. He was the senior graphic designer and photographer and it was here that I first came across him, working as his assistant from 1986. I was a willing student, and Steve a wonderful teacher, especially when it came to the mysterious world of black and white photography.

Panipat March 1978 Panipat March 1978
Panipat March 1978 Photographing a class with Tony Evora 1989

Steve and Louisa set up home in Woodstock and had two daughters Rebecca and Jessica. Steve was always a restless soul and left the polytechnic, shortly before it became a university. With Louisa, Steve established Maybury Design in the town. He developed his own easily recognisable style and often worked out of the Philippines, designing collections of jewellery, furniture and beautiful mother of pearl wall coverings for Liberty, Marks and Spencer, Next and store groups across the world. If you are in Woodstock, Louisa’s wonderful quirky shop is still a lovely place to find on Market Street.

Steve had so many other skills and interests. A black belt, he taught karate at Oxford University, he was also an immensely talented percussionist playing with many bands and he was a huge fan of American vintage style. Louisa told me: ‘One of his favourite business trips was to Portland taking a train journey through the snowy landscape. You could never underestimate, his love of all things American vintage: American clothing, films and literature and most importantly his passion for music.’

Picture drawn Delhi 1979 Picture drawn Hotel Imperial 1979

Steve struggled with illness in his last few years and moved back to Chester. He was diagnosed with breast cancer two years before he died, and bravely took part in a campaign highlighting breast cancer in men. The campaign included a stark black and white (of course) portrait. He had been clear of the disease for a few months when he died unexpectedly in December 2017.

At the funeral I smiled at his daughters choice of the music played: Herbie Hancock, Django Reinhardt and Little Feat. Steve would have approved.