Diploma of the Edinburgh College of Art, presented to James Alexander Johnstone
presented to James Alexander Johnstone, 1920. UC/MBL/2151
James Johnstone’s enrolment at the Edinburgh College of Arts as a day student in 1914 saw him choose to major in design over painting, sculpture and architecture. This meant that his university education was grounded in the precise techniques, botanical motifs and the placement of art in daily life that characterised the British Arts and Crafts movement. He was quickly recognised as a diligent and personable worker, with a recommendation letter writing that ‘I observed in Mr Johnstone the spirit of the Craftsman, always eager to continue at the work in hand until it was completed to his entire satisfaction.’ Upon his graduation from the College in 1920, Johnstone was awarded his diploma. Unlike the stark degrees that are the norm in universities of today, this one is elaborately decorated. It has been signed by the College’s Lord Provost, the Director, the Head of Section and Secretary, and in 1921 was endorsed with the acknowledgement of Johnstone’s completion of a post-graduate year. The diploma measures a large 690x480mm, allowing for a grandiose declaration of his completion of the course, and an ornately decorated border. This is comprised of botanical forms, angels unravelling the scroll of the Edinburgh College of Arts, and shields representing its four disciplines. It exemplifies the esteem placed upon the completion of a university course in the early twentieth century.
James Johnstone : A selection of artworks
Click on the thumbnails to discover more about this striking selection of artworks by James Johnstone. Images selected and written about by Alice Tappenden.