Overview

Born in 1933, Andrew Johnstone painted from a series of ‘half a dozen or so’ themes, usually from the ancient world. His techniques and idioms often stem from the modern artists he admired, such as Roger Hilton, Ben Nicholson and William Scott. In the last decade of his life, he regularly exhibited his paintings, and occasionally his sculptures, at the Islington Art Fair and the 20/21 British Art Fair, as well as having a series of one-man shows in London, and at Cadogan Contemporary. In 1989 he was the subject of a documentary on ITV.

 

“My own work is domestic and small scale. It is for looking at and enjoying in a home environment… just to be there and to feed the spirit and imagination.  Balm for the soul, if you like.  If a painting of mine does that and, most importantly, goes on doing that, then I am happy: it is a good painting as far as I am concerned.  I am not setting out to build a career – it is a bit late for that anyway – but to let my imagination wander over what I have seen, years ago or yesterday, and to let my mind and hands synthesise that into a painting or, more rarely these days, a sculpture.  This will probably not resemble at all what I have been looking at; it will be some new creation that comes from my imagination…  But I also go off at perhaps ridiculous tangents when something catches my eye or amuses me.  Why not?

 

For me, painting, or at least making, is not an interest or a pastime: it is a compulsion.”

 

- Andrew Johnstone

Works
Biography

Andrew Johnstone was born in 1933 and educated at Marlborough College where he first found his lifelong passion for painting. In 1949 and 1950, he embarked on a motorbike journey through Europe leading him to studies at Strasbourg University and the Sorbonne.

 
Johnstone served his National Service in the Scots Guards, taking him to Egypt and Afghanistan before he returned to his studies reading PPE at St John's College, Oxford. On the hunt for adventure, Johnstone spent his holidays attempting to join the French Foreign Legion and get Russian permission to walk to Moscow - both rejected.
 
Upon graduating Oxford, it was in the Foreign Office where Johnstone found his first career. Never truly at home in the establishment, his far-flung postings were perfect for him. First to Lebanon where he became fluent in Arabic, it was then to Aden, Oman, Syria, Pakistan, and Cambodia in 1969-71.
 
At all his foreign postings Andrew Johnstone painted and drew. He had a one-man show in Rawalpindi with the British Council and exhibited in Belfast and the Royal Irish Academy. Dublin was his final posting before taking early retirement from the Foreign Office in 1973 and buying a smallholding in Cornwall.
 
For the next 20 years Johnstone put all his energy into making and selling handmade creations including carpets, dolls' houses, clocks, toy and furniture. He crafted wooden dog sculptures which sold internationally and made a successful business producing bespoke frames for artist friends.
 
 In 1993, encouraged by his friendship with Cornish artist Bryan Ingham, Andrew Johnstone finally returned to painting. For the next decade he regularly exhibited his paintings and sculpture in London at the Islington Art Fair and 20/21 British Art Fair, as well as a series of solo shows at Cadogan Contemporary.
 
Inspiration came from many sources. Painting themes ranged from the ancient world to his modern life, Johnstone's techniques and expression often stemmed from British artists he admired. He found success wherever he turned his hand and although late in life established a convincing painting career.
 
Johnstone stopped painting regularly after 2006. In the autumn of 2011 he had his first stroke. In 2013, Andrew and wife Diane celebrated their golden wedding anniversary and after a long life full of talent and adventure Andrew passed away in February 2015.