Person NameJohnstone; William (1897-1981); artist and art teacher
Epithetartist and art teacher
ActivityWilliam Johnstone was born the son of a farmer at Denholm, Roxburghshire, in 1897, and grew up at Greenhead near Selkirk. As a farmer he was in a reserved occupation, but he did see service in the army in the last year of the First World War. He attended Edinburgh College of Art 1919-1923. In association with his cousin, the composer Francis George Scott (1880-1958), and Christopher Grieve ['Hugh MacDiarmid'] (1892-1978), for whose poems he would later produce illustrations, he advocated and helped to bring about a renaissance in the Scottish arts. A travelling scholarship enabled him to go to Paris in 1925, and there he studied under Lhote, met Chagall, Giacometti, and others, and became influenced by the surrealist movement. He returned to Selkirk in 1927 and for the next ten years put what he had learnt into practice, producing works that often brought the abstract and the surreal into images of the borders landscape. Perhaps his most important work from this period is 'A point in time' (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art). He became an art teacher in 1938, moving to London to take up the post of principal at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts (1938-1946). In this position and later on as principal of the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, (1947-1960) he made a major contribution to the development of what became the tenets of British art teaching in modern times. He set out his ideas in his lectures on art education and in his book 'Creative Art in Britain' (1949). He retired in 1960, returning to the borders to farm once agian, though continuing to paint during the remaining two decades of his life. He was married to the American artist Flora MacDonald.
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