I was born near Disneyland California. My first memory is of watching the firework display through the window of my room. I was in awe, Tinkerbell lived next door too!
At the age of 10 we moved to Santa Rosa, California where I had a different kind of night display, the clear night sky with bright stars and the discovery of the giant Redwoods. I went to San Francisco State University and studied Theatre Arts BA. It was through my research in costume that I became interested in Japanese art and design, especially textiles and the hundred shades of indigo. I went to Japan to study with a master artisan of the kimono using yuzen, shibori and roketsuzome.
Later, in Hong Kong my creative practice was influence by the tropical environment filled with light and noise, my work became more abstracted clear and bold in colour. I went to London and wild West Wales and found it equally inspiring.
I found the dust and grime of ingrained surfaces, when the edges are worn with layers of time, and muted colours greyed into man made materials. I experience Nature here, a rivers current and looking up through the heavy deep grey black blue sky to a ray of light reflecting back.
I make my own non-toxic fermentation indigo vats using a centuries old formula, plant dyes and pigments from the Earth on washi, wool, silk and contrast this with industrial materials- cast iron, steel, concrete. This engages me in a dialogue that creates a deeper connectedness to being.The tension of light, ephemeral and heavy dark industry produces a emotional experience.
“It is not an image I am seeking. It’s not an idea. It is an emotion you want to recreate, an emotion of wanting, of giving, and of destroying.” Louise Bourgeois
Indigo has been culturally, economically and socially significant for 6,000 years and it continues to inspire me. A heavy dark industry contrasts with light and shade in the material. An historic and timeless process produces something transient. The Universal becomes personal. These tensions provoke an powerful response.
I am available for teaching workshops, speaking engagements and commissions.
So pleased that ‘Ember’ was selected and awarded Honourable Mention by Envision Arts, for the online exhibition “Amber”. Please view at www.envisionartshoe.com/amber October 1-31, 2020.
Delighted that ‘Poem-19’ was selected for the Quarantine Art Exhibition at The British School at Athens.
H93cm x W63cm
Handmade natural indigo dye/pigment, a tiny 24ct gold leaf on washi
"Peacock Star" It’s absolutely beautiful! I look forward to enjoying it for many years to come.Jose R Bandujo, founder + chief creative officer, bandujo.com, NY2021
"Be Here Now" really speaks to me and has a real depth and spirituality that I find both daunting and soothing. It actually captures a lot of the feelings I have about the world right now.SK Tsang, Collector, London 2020
To the skies Justine Johnson looks with a similar attention as a haiku poet who tries to stay awake for his everyday sensual impressions. A very old Japanese haiku is like this: 'In the paper door, keyhole the whole heavenly stream.'"Harald Ruppert2017
JAPANESE PAPER USED TO CREATE A 3D MASTERPIECE BY JUSTINE JOHNSONwww.aizome1.com2015
This is clever stuff, expertly done, and none of it more expressive than Justine Johnson's "Bell for Peace", a fragile, helmet-shaped form, half-eroded by rust as iron wont to do. Stained, worn and fragmentary, it appears to be a bell made from an ancient Viking helmet or relic of a long-forgotten war. Beautiful in its decay, it lingers as a palimpsest of failure, loss and hope.Mary Abbe, Star Tribune Minneapolis2011
And, as if to push it home Justine Johnson gives us "Juliette", a hooded serpent basking on a rock, waiting to lure a hapless victim into temptation; its identity-or is its predatory gaze-covered with a red leather mask.Darryl Corner, Western Mail2009
Over 20 years of knowing Justine as an artist she has shown a dedication to making work that combines a high level of investigation and conceptual thought with a deep sense of materiality, which always makes for thought provoking pieces.Ken Rorrison, owner Henley Halebrown Rorrison