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Interview with John Jukes Johnson

John Jukes Johnson lives and works in south-east London and makes work using a wide variety of methods. He has participated in every Artists’ Open House of Dulwich Festival.

When did your interest in art start?

Aged eight, in central London, during the war, I created a strip cartoon called ‘The Underworld’. My aunt said it was peopled with criminals. Mine was not. It had ladies in high heels & pointed hats, Peter Rabbit with floral material in his ears & Coco, my doll, trim in a gold edged waistcoat & velvet trousers. Times change.

Which artists have inspired your work?

Rauschenberg’s use of photo transfers on screen prints & shadow imagery were long an influence, as was Antoni Tapies.

Describe the way you work and how you create your images?

Some images start as exorcisms of the past, others are a response to political events. They are built up in layers of, I hope, not too obvious narrative.

One strand of your work explores life drawing. What are you trying to achieve in these works?

Initially, life drawing was an attempt to become more controlled in my ability to observe and reproduce. Rodin’s fluid watercolours were an inspiration. Now the object is to create a more complete pictorial setting.

What other subject matter are you drawn to and why?

The idea of the ‘young’ spiky mountains of Corsica, the sea & sky, not literally, but as suggestive imagery layering cut out prints, reflects a place I love to return to.

You use a variety of medium, from drawing, printmaking, painting and ceramics to create your images. What is your preferred way of working?

Printmaking is my natural realm, now without a press, using techniques Paul Klee favoured.

How long have you been involved in the Dulwich Festival and what do you like about showing your work in the Artists’ Open House?

I have been involved in the Dulwich Open House scheme since its inception. The pleasure lies in conversations with the those one knows and newcomers one doesn’t.

What work will you be showing in the Artists’ Open House this year?

This year the focus will be on mounted work on paper plus some ceramics.

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