I’m happy to have had the following article written about my work for the September issue of local magazine, The Fringe. Thanks to Naomi McCleary for her interest in the work.
The Fringe, September 2013
Artist of the Month – John Johnston
John Johnston came to my attention as one of three Titirangi-based finalists in the inaugural Parkin Drawing Award, won by another Titirangi resident, Monique Jansen. The generous prize of $20,000 certainly brings focus to what judge Heather Galbraith describes as ‘one of our most ancient tools of communication, yet still incredibly relevant.’ The award attracted 800 submissions.
John Johnston creates work of mesmerising textural depth. His work for the Parkin Award, Signature Field 1, also has a fabric-like quality and a visit to his website (www.jjprojects.com) reveals wonderfully strong graphic images with delicate detailing. I particularly like his ‘Requiem for Hotere’ and works with more than a passing nod to McCahon’s waterfalls.
John has made a career as a digital designer, art director and social media consultant and is the founder of a popular sustainability-oriented blog, The9Billion.com. After his early years in Christchurch where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (First Class Honours), he went on to complete a Master of Visual Arts (University of Sydney). In 2011 he returned from Australia and big city life to Titirangi, chosen for its long and strong legacy of artists and its proximity to bush and beach. With this move has come a return to making and exhibiting art and plans to continue this for the rest of his life.
Currently he is the generator of a ‘poster project‘ in which large paste-up images of one of his paintings, Downfall, based on McCahon’s waterfalls, are appearing on walls and billboards in deconstructed and reassembled collages. This is guerilla art at its best; temporary, intriguing, leaving no trace. For John, this project takes his work outside the gallery scene and into a non-arts domain. Further ideas to work in public space are emerging.
John Johnston is but one of a new generation of artists drawn to Titirangi. For the early artists who made their homes in these hills, it was often an escape from a judgmental and unrelenting society. Today’s artists come for its physical beauty and sustaining arts tradition and culture.