January 30, 2010

Meet the correspondents: RENNES/MANCHESTER > Caroline Johnson


"I was born during one of the worst winters on record in Sharoe Green Maternity Hospital, Preston. Brought up on a post-war housing estate, archived drawings (aged five) already show a keen eye for detail such as washing on a line and fluff under a bed. By the age of nine I was copying photos of the stars from magazines and had decided to become an artist, feeling that my inherent shyness precluded a career as an Air Hostess.

I studied Fine Art for two years at the lovely Neo-Classical art school in Preston, in the industrial North West of England. An extra year's Foundation Course was spent at the palm-clad Falmouth School of Art in Cornwall. Then to London, in the heady, hippy late Sixties, and three years at the Central School of Art.

I now divide my time between Rennes in Western France and Manchester in the North-West of England.

The city of Rennes is in Brittany, for the most part a rural region which is bounded by rugged coastlines, sandy beaches and small fishing ports. The interior is scattered with romantic mediaeval villages, forests of Arthurian legends, intensive pig-rearing farms, industrial agriculture and the occasional sophisticated university town, such as Rennes.

Manchester is the birthplace of England's Industrial Revolution, and was the world's first industrialised city. Here was a thriving cotton industry, the remains of which can still be seen in its surviving cotton mills and warehouses, and the city's grand architecture... witness to the wealth of the few and the misery of the many.

I'm a tutor for painting and drawing workhops, where, among other things, I strongly encourage the use of sketchbooks.

I've done numerous public mural commissions and artworks for Chambers of Trade in England and France. I show my work in several galleries in North-West England.

Drawing and painting is a great delight to me and when I can't draw regularly I feel incomplete. I carry at least one sketchbook with me at all times and I'm drawn to the urban and the architectural, and the people who move through these places, who are often quite unaware of their surroundings.

As an artist, I feel it's up to us to reveal the beauty of the mediocre, the commonplace and the overlooked. It's easy enough to do a pretty picture of something like a vase of beautiful flowers! But it's a challenge (and a pleasure) to me, to show the charms of the urban — a humble nettle growing out of the pavement, creeping shadows, derelict mills, forgotten doorways and broken fences; the watchful solidity of a gasworks, the mystery of parked cars; bland shopping malls with nothing to recommend them... the intrusive and enigmatic shapes of new structures which stand like glittering giants against the steadfast skies.

I'm so pleased to be part of the Urban Sketchers' community!"

• Caroline's blog.
• Caroline's art on flickr.

19 comments :

James Hobbs said...

Hurray! Good to see you hear Caroline. As you know, I'm a big fan of your work on your flickr site.

Caroline said...

Thank you, James, we are mutual fans, then!

memi said...

Lovely, Welcome! Look forward to your duo-country posts!

Stephen Gardner said...

Welcome Caroline, I also spent time at Falmouth Art College, I really miss that place. I'll look forward to seeing your work.

Asnee said...

welcome from bangkok, caroline. i've been your fan (and contact,of course) at flickr and love to see more of your wonderful work here..

veronica Lawlor said...

Welcome Caroline! I look forward to your posts.

jerry waese said...

nice to meet ya

omar said...

Welcome Caroline, I have always enjoy your drawings in flickr and I'm very happy to have you here in urbansketchers.

Caroline said...

Wow, I'm touched.. thank you all for your kind comments!
Stephen- regarding Falmouth, I defy anyone to spend time there and not get nostalgic about the place after...it was heavenly!

marina said...

Welcome! So great to discover you here, I really love your style!

Caroline said...

Thank you, Marina, for your kind comment.

gabi campanario said...

Welcome Caroline!

kumi matsukawa said...

Welcome Caroline! I like your sketch style a lot. I look forward to seeing more of your works here.

Don McNulty said...

Great to see you on Urban Sketchers!

Laureline said...

I'm so happy to see your work for the first time! I spent three weeks in Brittany this past fall and fell in love with that region. Lucky you to have a life there! I've just subscribed to your wonderful blog and added you as a contact on flickr--what fun lies ahead!
Welcome!

Caroline said...

Thank you all for your lovely comments! I hope I can live up to them!

Matthew Brehm said...

Welcome Caroline ... I just saw a tv show about Brittany, and though what a wonderful place to visit - now I can visit vicariously through your sketches!

Don Low said...

Really love your style and lines... welcome! I will keep a close watch on you!

Caroline said...

Thank you all for your welcomes!