Growing up in northern Vermont close to the Canadian border, Dede Johnston developed an early passion for snow laden alpine landscapes. This remains an important theme in her photographic work. Johnston studied photography at The Black and White School of Photography, London in 2001-2.
Johnston has had solo exhibitions in London (2006), Kitzbuhel, Austria (2007-8 / 2020-21), Verbier, Switzerland (2014) and Courchevel, France (2017). Since 2010 she has exhibited at the London Art Fair with TAG Fine Arts that include exhibitions in New York and London. From 2013-16 Johnston was invited to participate in group shows at Eleven Gallery, London and at Photo London art fair in 2015 and 2016.
Johnston’s photographic work has been selected by several magazines, including Harpers Bazaar as a cover photo for their ‘Best Places to Ski’ supplement, by Porter Magazine for their Winter 2019 edition and by Conde Nast Traveller for their February 2020 issue featuring Courchevel. Notably, in March 2018, Johnston’s photograph ‘Iceberg I’ was selected by The New York Times to illustrate their article ’23 Art Exhibitions to View in NYC this Weekend’ as well as their piece ‘Art Treasures That Won’t Break the Bank’.
Johnston's work has also featured in many online publications such as Lens Culture’s online blog ‘Don’t Take Pictures’. Furthermore, an image was selected by Humble Arts Foundation for their online exhibition “Winter Pictures”.
Dede Johnston continues to live and work in London, UK and selected locations worldwide.
‘Beauty (is found) not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness that one thing against another creates.’
In his book, ‘In Praise of Shadows’ Japanese novelist Junichiro Tanizaki extolls the Oriental propensity to seek beauty and mystery in dim light, even darkness, as opposed to the stark, brilliant light preferred by Westerners. Eastern aesthetic favours the subtle differences in shadows that produce soft and delicate forms with a ‘fragile beauty’ that are richly suggestive; ‘darkness has always occupied our fantasies’.
According to Tanizaki, it is only in half light that the depth and richness of true and exquisite beauty is revealed. This half darkness offers ‘rare tranquility’ and provides peace, repose and contemplation where ‘immutable tranquility holds sway’.
‘The ‘mysterious Orient’ of which Westerners speak probably refers to the uncanny silence of dark places. Where lies the key to this mystery? Ultimately it is the magic of shadows.’
While both Crowded Slopes and Solitude look at man's relationship with the alpine environment, one portrays our urge to socialise, colonise and dominate while the other represents a more solitary, romantic experience against the uncontrollable power of the natural world. Solitude attests to our insignificance and vulnerability against the power of the natural world. In this way, I am more directly inspired by the Romantic tradition – evoking feelings of mystery, silence and solitude – or what remains of the experience of solitude. These emotions are implicit in vast empty space, diminutive human presence and the mystical qualities of the landscape. However, unlike the work of the German Romantics and American 19th century artists and writers, these images document contemporary concern for the environment and the traces we leave behind.
CRACKS IN THE ICE