MARK JOHNSTON

New Paintings

3 September to 1 October

The artist will be in attendance on 3 September, 1 – 4 p.m.

Works are now on our website and are for sale.

 

Mark Johnston was born in the North East of England, and spent his childhood by the sea and in the country. Painting took him to the Lake District and then to Brighton University. Three years later after graduating with a B.A. (Hons) degree in Painting he was awarded the Sussex Painting Prize. For the next few years he traveled, lived and painted in Greece, Barcelona and Andalucia, before returning to England. His work is stimulated by nature, landscapes, primitive power, energy and all its connotations of darkness and light. The importance of an improvised and intuitive process opens painting up to a primal purity, a spiritual and uniquely mysterious quality outside of time.  Mark says of his work, The smaller canvases, or sometimes boards, are much more intimate though they too can be emotional. I see these as chamber music, to be engaged with at home and close-to, in a limited setting by a limited audience. The larger works, because the larger fields call for more assertive action, can hold their own on a museum wall.

 

Dusk II, Oil on Linen 100 x 100 cm. Sold

 

River estuaries give way to calmer vistas….

Heath, Oil on Panel 24 x 31 cm. Sold

 

Ever the poet to bring a person back to earth…

To step over the low wall that divides
Road from concrete walk above the shore
Brings sharply back something known long before—
The miniature gaiety of seasides.
Everything crowds under the low horizon:
Steep beach, blue water, towels, red bathing caps,
The small hushed waves’ repeated fresh collapse
Up the warm yellow sand, and further off
A white steamer stuck in the afternoon—
Still going on, all of it, still going on!
To lie, eat, sleep in hearing of the surf
(Ears to transistors, that sound tame enough
Under the sky), or gently up and down
Lead the uncertain children, frilled in white
And grasping at enormous air, or wheel
The rigid old along for them to feel
A final summer, plainly still occurs
As half an annual pleasure, half a rite,
As when, happy at being on my own,
I searched the sand for Famous Cricketers,
Or, farther back, my parents, listeners
To the same seaside quack, first became known.
Strange to it now, I watch the cloudless scene:
The same clear water over smoothed pebbles,
The distant bathers’ weak protesting trebles
Down at its edge, and then the cheap cigars,
The chocolate-papers, tea-leaves, and, between
The rocks, the rusting soup-tins, till the first
Few families start the trek back to the cars.
The white steamer has gone. Like breathed-on glass
The sunlight has turned milky. If the worst
Of flawless weather is our falling short,
It may be that through habit these do best,
Coming to the water clumsily undressed
Yearly; teaching their children by a sort
Of clowning; helping the old, too, as they ought.

Philip Larkin  ‘To the Sea’

Earthy or fiery tones give way to more turquoise hues

 

The Shallows, Oil on Panel 23 x 31 cm. £2,500

 

Mark Johnston’s deep layered oils are the perfect complement to the infinity of Jaejun Lee’s smooth celadon blue…

 

And finally….

Speaking of estuaries and the sea, on the 9th anniversary of the passing of Seamus Heaney, I happened to be at a funeral in the old country at the weekend.  This view of the Foyle as it wends its way through the city of Derry, ends at Greencastle on the Inishowen Peninsula, home to the playwright Brian Friel, for whom Heaney composed the poem ‘A Call’.

 

 

“Hold on,” she said, “I’ll just run out and get him.
The weather here’s so good, he took the chance
To do a bit of weeding.”
So I saw him
Down on his hands and knees beside the leek rig,
Touching, inspecting, separating one
Stalk from the other, gently pulling up
Everything not tapered, frail and leafless,
Pleased to feel each little weed-root break,
But rueful also . . .
Then found myself listening to
The amplified grave ticking of hall clocks
Where the phone lay unattended in a calm
Of mirror glass and sunstruck pendulums . . .
And found myself then thinking: if it were nowadays,
This is how Death would summon Everyman.
Next thing he spoke and I nearly said I loved him.

 

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As ever thank you for reading.
Aidan.