Amelia Johnstone MA RCA

a-johnstone-100px.jpgTeaching Fellow
Subject Leader
t: 02920 416643
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Specialist Subject Areas

Illustration, Illustration Research


PGCHE University of Gloucestershire
MA Communications Art and Design Royal College of Art
First Class Honours BA (Hons) Illustration Hereford College of Art & Design


I was born on 7th May 1977 at 12 O’ Clock midday in Chesterfield hospital in Derbyshire. As the fourth of six children I spent summers growing up in Dorset and Devon on rivers and in woods playing alone, or making up elaborate games with my siblings, or cousins or imaginary friends. Life was all about imagination then, and continues to be now.

Illustration has always been there, always been my discipline and as a child I used to carry my favourite illustrated books with me, go for picnic breakfasts and eat marmalade sandwiches out of illustrated tins and live life as though always in a story.

One of my earliest illustrated memories is ‘Struwwelpeter’ this book brought my nightmares to life, and is the reason I stopped sucking my thumb. It was in the bookshelf in the room I used to stay in, in my Grandmother’s house, and when the lights went out and the door stood a little ajar the scissor man would come…

… ‘The door flew open, in he ran, 
The great, long, red-legged scissorman…

’ In his fashion of white socks red trousers long nose and tousled hair he haunted me through those early years, imagining as soon as I put my thumb in to sleep that he would awaken from his book like state and come to life to chop off my thumbs. That illustration had the power to change me and it has even more significance in my work. ‘Shellewellyn’ my male alter ego was possibly conceived in these early years; sadly Shellewellyn’s victims may be left in an even more tragic state. 

My Grandmother was born in India at the end of the Raj, her stories of that place and reading novels by EM Forster and Frances Hodgson Burnett lead me to travel there in 2001 to explore that most important part of my imagination, the past. My Great Grandfather, affectionately known as Bear, shot a tiger which had eaten one of his servants and the head was placed in the stairwell at Granny’s house in Derbyshire, the story I was told, however, was that the tiger had jumped through the wall and that its body had become lodged there, it couldn’t be set free so the face was framed and the rest remained inside. That tiger, like the scissor man, came creeping into my room at night to eat me….and he again visited me in India in the Himalayas whilst others slept I felt his breath and heard his feet padding around our exposed tent.

The stories I was told as a child, the smells and memories of that existence, that part of my life, which continue to inspire and excite me, as well as provoke feeling of the happy melancholy. A feeling which helps me feel alive, and to live life.

My first dissertation ‘‘A long time ago when wishing still helped’ – Imagery, Imagination and Private Worlds’, describes how it is through the late night dreaming hours that ideas are born and identities grown. In 2004 I became part of an exciting illustration movement which culminated in the publication of Le Gun magazine. Le Gun describes me as ‘a spiritual descendant of the Bloomsbury Group with a male alter ego called Shellewellyn’ it explores even more of this other side, the place where demons, ideas and strange manifestations of another sort of reality, lurk, leap about, have fun and wreak havoc.

 I have exhibited in London in both solo and group shows and around the world with Le Gun.

I am currently exhibiting in London and Cardiff, and working on illustrated essays to bring the symposium papers for ‘Alchemy, Redolence and Enchantment’ together in a book with themes of obedience and disobedience, light and dark, now and then and lastly when. I continue to explore fairy tales, and growing as my Alice self, uncomfortable and constantly shifting perspective and to the champion the discipline and purpose of illustration and the importance and impact of images.

Current research

‘Run to draw the World’

Physical activity and artistic creativity, running and drawing at the same time an auto-phenomenological exploration.

I am interested in the purpose and practice of illustration beyond the boundaries of the commercial and published page, my aim is to become the ultimate-itinerant-illustrator running and drawing through the world.

In my research the philosophical will underpin the sociological rather than lead the analysis. A phenomenological approach will emphasise subjectivity, description, interpretation, and agency, to examine the ‘lived experience’ of ‘running and drawing’, or similar combinations of creativity and physical movement, gathering evidence of what is experienced, imagined, drawn, remembered and felt initially by the researcher, and subsequently through participant case studies.

Particularly relevant to this research are eidetic or vivid mental images, which the phenomenological approach treats authoritatively (Cerbone, 2006). Whilst running, the drawings made construct eidetic visions relating to part of the ‘lived experience’ that further trigger memories of that experience when revisited either through the drawings themselves or the places in which they were drawn. By repeating the activity in a variety of scenarios these drawings become data used to analyse the similarities, differences, meanings and ‘knowledge’ from monitoring data collected from experiences.

In order to understand the ‘essence’ of phenomena in parallel with phenomenological philosophy, researchers have highlighted the difficulties of a nuanced approach which relies upon ‘imagination’ and ‘perception’ unquestioningly, thus having no definitive path. For this research such complexities will be necessary. Used synchronously with autoethno/phenomenographical approaches, detailed analysis can be provided from drawings and films made whilst running to be considered as evidence in reflective writing. This will command a difficult and multifaceted philosophy (Allen-Collinson, 2009) which will allow the researcher to use this as evidence which can be seen as ‘new knowledge’ (Richardson, 2000), and through this approach examine the ‘lived experience’ of the research itself to explore a ‘rich’ (Trotman, 2006) lifeworld which values the imagination.

Principal Publications, Exhibitions and Awards

‘Space is deep’
Daniel Blau Gallery Hoxton Square London
December 2013 – February 2014

‘What is P*A*St?’
Cardiff M.A.D.E January 2014 including workshops and performances

‘From London with Love’
Material gallery and bookshop
Rivington Street London
December 2013

Funded by the Arts Council of Wales
‘A Christmas P*A*St’ a multi media puppet show through 24 doors

Arcade Cardiff
21st December 2013 – 6th January 2014

‘Once Upon Again’
London Winns Gallery 28.06.13 – 04.11.13

La Science Fiction – with Run To Draw:
Medoc Marathon France Performance September 2013


P*A*St installation Arcade Cardiff July 2013

‘See How They Run’ – with Run To Draw:
Edinburgh Marathon performance May 2013

‘Once Upon Again’
Cardiff Milkwood Gallery 27.02.13 – 09.03.13

‘The Function of Folk’
Ethnographic Museum Krakow November 2012 – January 2013

‘The Princess and The Pea and the Deep Blue Sea’
Performance Wardrobe Theatre Bristol November 2012

‘Krakow Run’
Performance November 2012

‘Pheidippides 1’
Cardiff half Marathon performance October 2012

‘The Princess and the Pea’- Installation and Performance
Ethnographic Museum Krakow November 2012

P*A*St: Puppet Performance three tales adapted from Peter Carey’s Short Stories
Cardiff Design Festival October 2011

‘Folk After Auschwitz’
Cardiff library October 2011

Close Eyes To Exit: Red Gallery Rivington Street London, 1st- 18th April 2011, Exhibition and publication
Make Room: Milkwood Gallery Cardiff, 12th – 24th April 2011
Falmouth Metamorphosis Illustration Forum, Shadow Play Alchemy Redolence & Enchantment
‘Paper Horses: Women Witchcraft & Sex’: Solo Show Material Gallery Kingly Court London
Varoom article ‘A Kind of Magic’ August 2010

Solo Shows
Welcome to the World of Amelia Johnstone – Material Ludlow 2009
‘Polska Podroz: with Cossacks, the Devil, Shellewellyn and Me’, The Blue Room, Royal College of Art London, December 2002
Random, Reverie and Rapture’, The Blue Room, Royal College of Art London, April 2002

Group Shows
Bare Bones Neu Gallery November 2009 and March 2010.
Faust Work exhibited as part of the Big Draw Material Ludlow October 2008
Celebration 150 years West Buckland School opened by Princess Royal October 2008
‘Le Gun the Family’ La Rochelle School Shoreditch London September 2008
‘Le Gun’- Dream Machine – Performance and Exhibition White Chapel Gallery London June 2007
‘Planet Le Gun’- Brighton, January 2007
‘Strange Works’ – March of the Dead, October 2006
‘Le Gun’: Festival of Illustration Brick Lane London May 2006
‘Le Gun’: No 8 Regent Street London, June – September 2005
Book Arts Exhibition – Hereford College of Arts – April 2005 and Hay on Wye Festival May 2005
‘Le Gun’, Notting Hill Arts Club, September – November 2005
‘Body Interpretations’, St Martin’s in the Fields Crypt Gallery, September – October 2005,
‘Le Gun’, The Match Bar, Oxford Street, London, July – September 2004,
‘Le Gun’, ICA London and L’Institute Francais Kensington London, In collaboration with the COMICA Festival, May – July 2004
‘Your Cup’: an exhibition celebrating sustainability and the cup, Hockney Gallery, Royal College of Art London, December 2003
The Show 2: Communications Art and Design, Henry Moore Gallery, Royal College of Art London, June – July 2003
Folio Society 25th Anniversary Awards, Seminar rooms, Royal College of Art London, April – May 2003
Work in Progress, Royal College of Art London, January 2003
Letter Press Annual Show, Hockney Gallery, Steven’s Building, Royal College of Art London, May – June 2002
‘The Reading Room’, The Blue Room, Royal College of Art London, June 2002
Folio Society Awards, Seminar rooms, Royal College of Art London, May 2002

‘Quentin Follies’: Charleston Farmhouse Sussex, ‘Mansfield and Miller’, July 2004
Bath Music Festival: ‘Immigration’: a performance with slides and cut outs with original music by Ben Hardwick, Royal Academy of Music, and the words of Italo Calvino from his ‘Invisible Cities’, May 2002
Notting Hill Arts Club
‘Poetry with slides’, February 2002


Hay festival Book Arts Award for ‘The Severed Head Society’ 2007
Folio Society Award for Narrative illustration of Goethe’s Faust, Royal College of Art: May 2002
Brian Robb Memorial Scholarship, Royal College of Art: June 2002