John Walker was born in Birmingham, England, in 1939. He trained at Birmingham College of Art in 1956-60, in his final year winning the Arts Council Drawing Prize, the Abbey Travelling Scholarship and the National Young Artists Drawing Competition.
His appointments as artist-in-residence at Monash University in 1979 and at Prahran College of Advanced Education in 1980 and as Dean of Melbourne's Victoria College of the Arts in 1982 followed periods as Gregory Fellow in Painting at the University of Leeds, Harkness Fellow to the USA, Visiting Professor of Painting and Drawing at The Cooper Union in New York, Tutor at the Royal College of Art, Visiting Professor at Yale University and artist-in-residence at St Catherine's College, Oxford. Influences from a visit to North Queensland and contact with Aboriginal art during his time in Australia are to be seen in subsequent paintings and prints. Most recently Walker has been Professor of Painting at Boston University.
In the 1960s and 70s there were many one-man exhibitions of Walker's work in London, Leeds, New York, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Verona, Birmingham, Cologne, Bochum, Portland, Paris, Washington, Oxford and - in 1977-79 - in Melbourne and Sydney.prints at the Tate Gallery, London. He was in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1972.
In the 1980s he held further one-man exhibitions in London, Melbourne, Launceston, Adelaide, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Ayr, Washington, Louisville, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, New York, Birmingham, Sydney and Helsinki. On 1985 there was a retrospective of his paintings at the Hayward Gallery, London, and a retrospective of his prints at the Tate Gallery, London.