John Johnston

Staff details

Department Educational Studies
Email j.johnston (
Phone+44 (0)20 7717 2227

John Johnston is a Lecturer in Art and Design Education and Head of the PGCE Art and Design. He is an established Artist/Educator recognised in national and international level. His work is focused on issues related to Social Justice, Human Rights, and Development. His main interests lie in how art can be utilised as a tool for learning and interface with key areas of society to foster attitude change and greater understanding of the world. The main themes of his work are: Identity, Politics, Conflict Transformation and Social Cohesion. 


From 2009-2013 John was the Director of the Centre for the Arts and Learning ​and remains an active member of the Centre. He is a core lecturer on the MA Artist Teachers and Contemporary Practices, MA in Education: Culture, Language and Identity and the PGCE Secondary Art and Design. 

Professional projects

John has developed projects focused on young people in both formal and informal educational settings. He has also produced works in collaboration with political leaderships from a variety of contexts including the Balkans, Northern Ireland and the Middle East. Some of his art projects have brought him into direct contact with political prisoners and ex-combatants in Northern Ireland and Bosnia.

John's most recent project, Street Art, Learning and Political Potentialities, brought together artists, educators, young people, community representatives and academics to explore the role of art and the potentialities of street art toward achieving critical learning and political engagement.  A major BBC documentary film covered the process of the project – this will be screened on the BBC in the autumn. His mural, inaugurated in April 2009, transformed a peace wall in West Belfast. It is part of the project “If Walls Could Talk” by the Arts and Tourism unit based in the Greater Shankill Partnership in Belfast.

John has been invited to speak at a number of conferences, including the Balkan Human Rights Summer Conference in Dubrovnik, University of Ulster UNESCO Centre Coleraine's 'Peace and Reconciliation through Art in Schools', and the Guernica Art and Peace Conference. He has recently presented for Goldsmiths' Centre for Arts and Learning, giving the talks 'Art, Language, Multimodality and Space: Linguistic Landscape in Schools and Commnunity' (2009) and 'John Johnston: Review of Practice’ (2008). He has served as a representative for Ireland on the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network's Education Committee and for Northern Ireland at the Venice Biennale.

Featured publications

  • Linguistic Landscape: Seeing and Writing in Art.  Mor-Somerfield, A and Johnston, J.  In: Linguistic Landscapes , Multiculturalism and Social Change: Diversite de Approches. Frankfurt am Main (2012)
  • Finding your way: The purpose and relevance of writing for artist researcher teacher practices.  Areses Huertas, A., Frimet, B., Johnston, J., McGeer, N., & T. Page.   In Journal of Writing and Creative Practice 2012
  • International Culture Arts Network, Borders and Boundaries. Johnston, John. Conference paper 2011
  • 80:20 ‘The organisation, the ideas, the work, the people, the issues, the vision: Challenging Traditions in Northern Ireland – Being British, Race and Identity 2007
  • Art in Contentious Spaces in Social and Critical Practice in Art Education (Dennis Atkinson and Paul Dash, Editors) Trentham Books, 2005



Finding your way: The purpose and relevance of writing for artist researcher teacher practices.
Areses Huertas, Alfonso; Frimet, Ben; Johnston, John; McGeer, Naoise and Page, Tara. 2012. Finding your way: The purpose and relevance of writing for artist researcher teacher practices. Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 5(1), pp. 45-72. ISSN 17535190

Conference or Workshop Item

Explore The Big Draw
Johnston, John; Pitfield, Maggie; Macleroy Obied, Vicky and Page, Tara. 2011. 'Explore The Big Draw'. In: Explore The Big Draw. Goldsmiths, London, United Kingdom.

Page, Tara; Pitfield, Maggie; Johnston, John and Macleroy Obied, Vicky. 2010. 'Blurring'. In: Blurring. Goldsmiths, London, United Kingdom.

Johnston, John and Page, Tara. 2009. 'GoldKing'. In: GoldKing. Goldsmiths, London, United Kingdom.

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