Johnny Dewe Mathews
I was born in London, Educated at Ampleforth College near York, and a school run by Benedictine monks that emphasized the student's creative and spiritual development. I trained and qualified as an architect in 1970 at the Central London Polytechnic. Then traveled in the US and Central America and designed and help build houses in Mexico for archaeological workers who were on long-term excavation projects of ancient Zapotec temples. I also lived by making still life water colours of food and drink, which I exchanged for meals in restaurants. I went to live in New York in 1971 where I worked as an architect and lived on the Bowery in the lower east side. I met many of the Warhol factory crowd but I was too timid and conservative to throw myself headlong into that world, and anyway my 9 to 5 architectural office job was very time consuming. Just before I returned to England I went to see an exhibition of self-portrait photographs by the artist Lucas Sumares and was instantly inspired to take up photography myself I returned to London in 1972 and started taking photos of artists, fashion designers and rock stars. After only 2 years of taking photos the artist Patrick Proctor introduced me to Sir Roy Strong, the then director of the National Portrait Gallery. He and Colin Ford (in charge of photography) offered me a one-man show. In 1974 I exhibited my photos at the National Portrait Gallery. In the last 30 years I have principally concentrated on drawing and painting in water colours and oils. I have had several one-man exhibitions in London, Paris, and Sante Fe –New Mexico and have also exhibited in New York, Los Angeles and Italy. I continue to paint and take photographs.
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