The Oregon Coast Council for the Arts is pleased to present Tillamook County artist Brian Johnstone in the Coastal Oregon Visual Artist Showcase (COVAS) at the Newport Visual Arts Center from October 2 through November 29, 2015. Johnstone will exhibit original art pottery as part of his exhibit, “Blurring the Line: Clayworks by Brian Johnstone.” A public reception will be held on October 2, 5-7pm, at the VAC, and Johnstone will discuss his work at 6:00pm during the reception.
Brian Johnstone was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and received his BA in architecture from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, in 1967. After working many years as a construction manager, designer and architect, he returned to college and earned his DA in fine arts from the Edinburgh College of Art, graduating with honors and receiving a distinguished traveling scholarship to visit the United State and a British Council scholarship to explore Mexico. Johnstone came to the United States to study salt-glazing inspired by the late Don Reitz.
Brian Johnstone, and his wife Kate, had always been drawn to the Oregon coast, where Johnstone had worked in construction management on water-treatment plants in Seaside and Astoria. In 1998, they relocated to Manzanita, and in 2007, the couple left behind a construction-management practice and a graphic design studio to start Nehalem Clayworks. They converted a garage and workshop into a pottery studio and gallery serving the “Three Villages” area of Nehalem, Manzanita, and Wheeler, Oregon. Nehalem Clayworks’ intent is to serve the area as regional gathering place for the creative exchange of ideas amd methods, to encourage involvement in the ancient art of creating both expressive and functional objects with fired clay.
“As I made a living in architectural design and construction management in Scotland and around the world, I channeled some of my earnings back into other creative fields,” Johnstone says. “I found it to be the same process of exploring and unfolding. I would like to design a building from the engineered elements—cladding, interior, furniture, integrated decorative elements—but also leave an element of natural intrusion or integration. I was probably inspired to quit architecture while living in Spain and seeing the tremendous creative work past and present in all creative spheres.”
While currently based in Nehalem, Brian Johnstone has a varied background in arts and teaching, spanning state and national boundaries. He has carried out several private commissions at various scales in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and the Southern Highlands in Scottland. In 1976, he was an invited participant in a workshop and master class from Shoji Hamada, a Japanese master potter and a designated national treasure there. Furthermore, Johnstone has conducted workshops and lectures as an adjunct professor at the ITB (Institut Teknologi, Bandung) in Java, Indonesia, while working as a senior architect on the Bukit Asam project in Sumatra. In the United States, he has led additional workshops at The University of Kentucky (Lexington), the SW Virginia Community College and Morhead State University in Kentucky.
In the Pacific Northwest, Johnstone has worked as a guest artist at the Northwest Saltfire Workshops in The Dalles, Oregon, as a ceramics instructor and senior studio manager at the Potter’s Workshop in Portland, and as a studio instructor at the Potter’s Center in Boise, Idaho.
Brian Johnston has exhibited his ceramics, sculpture and painting at galleries in Oregon, Idaho, Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio and California, as well Scotland, Spain, France and Java, Indonesia.
“I’m currently entering a new phase of exploration into blurring the line between painting, sculpture and eventually architecture,” Johnstone says. “I would be hard-put to teach my style as I am at the mercy of the medium and muse; any identifiable ‘style’ has evolved with my continued understanding of the medium. The subject matter is almost secondary to the interplay of color and form.”
Nehalem Clayworks presents the work of Brian Johnstone and his wife Kate, who offer wall-mounted ceramic art and original art pottery, along with custom-made ceramic dinnerware, mugs and goblets, ceramic baking and serving wares as well as Asian-themed ceramics.
For his exhibit in the COVAS Showcase, Brian Johnstone will feature his recent series of Tardis Boxes along with other examples of his original art pottery.
The Coastal Oregon Visual Artist Showcase is open noon to 4pm, Tuesday-Saturday.