On the Solway

On the Solway, James Johnstone, Oil on canvas. UC/MBL/2236

James Johnstone, Oil on canvas. UC/MBL/2236.

Likely completed whilst on a trip back to his home country of Scotland, On the Solway is an oil painting of a small town on the southwest coast called Gatehouse of Fleet; which we can deduce from his own inscription on the reverse. Upon his return to New Zealand, he exhibited some of these paintings in Christchurch, and in the Group Show of 1938, he exhibited a painting that was also titled On the Solway. While we cannot be entirely certain that this is the same painting, it is not unlikely, and places the painting in the context of an experimental group of artists working in Canterbury. The painting itself shows a rocky, windswept coast under a textured grey sky, with a band of bright white clouds. In an interview, Ngarita Johnstone – James’ daughter – talked of her own obsession with clouds, and says that it was her father that taught her to first look at them when she was about eight – shortly before this painting was completed.

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.

Allandale Springtime, James Johnstone, c. 1953. Oil on Canvas. UC/MBL/2330
Untitled [Botanical Drawing], James Johnstone, Graphite and watercolour on paper, 1920. UC/MBL/2133
Untitled [Design for Chalice], James Johnstone, Pencil and ink drawing on paper, Date unknown. UC/MBL/2061
Untitled [Sheet of sketches for decimal currency], James Johnstone, Graphite, pen and ink on paper, c. 1966. UC/MBL/2138
Diploma of the Edinburgh College of Art, presented to James Alexander Johnstone, 1920. UC/MBL/2151
Floral Design, James Johnstone, Graphite and watercolour on paper. UC/MBL/2109
Untitled [Head Study], James Johnstone, Charcoal on paper, 1913. UC/MBL/2154
On the Solway, James Johnstone, Oil on canvas. UC/MBL/2236
Untitled [Design for Centennial Stamp, ChristChurch Cathedral], James Johnstone, c. 1949, Watercolour on paper. UC/MBL/2103
Untitled [The Camp, Woodend], James Johnstone, 1945, Oil on canvas. UC/MBL/2212
Untitled [Woodend Beach], James Johnstone, 1945, Oil on canvas. UC/MBL/2217
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