Untitled: Gladioli

WAG 2002.32


This is an earlier example of Johnson's work, a pencil study rather than the brightly coloured floral watercolours she is best known for. It demonstrates her interest in flowers throughout her life and career. Johnson was born in Colwyn Bay, North Wales, and attended King's College, University of Durham where she studied painting. Although she had severe arthritis from childhood, her early works were vigorous, large scale abstracts. She became keeper of art at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, in 1967, where she curated groundbreaking exhibitions on Victorian Art, including the first major retrospective of John Martin (1789 - 1854). Throughout her life, she experimented with line, form, colour and composition over a wide range of objects. The progress of her arthritis meant that she took early retirement, and she began to concentrate on developing her own art. In her last decade, her output was prodigious, usually brightly coloured 'portraits' of single flowers, such as a tulip or an iris.