Architecture: John has been an architect, historian and critic, but centrally a teacher of architecture and interior design; and for a dozen years from 1996 he was Professor of Architecture at the University of Brighton, England. (Naturally, having done time in education, John wrote about the education of architects and designers and about drawing and the design process. An article from RIBA Journal in 1979, and no less pertinent 40 years later, is seen here.)
Writing: Having published widely over many years, John currently researches and writes biography and history in the world of art and architecture.
Photography: Although he has taken and published photographs over many years, John is now focusing on this portfolio more strongly. One photograph was exhibited at the Roca Gallery as one of eight finalists in the 2013 “Architecture & People” photographic competition. A photograph of work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a finalist in a competition built around Mackintosh in The Lighthouse, Glasgow, in 2014. In March 2015, this exhibition is relocated to the international baggage hall of Glasgow Airport, to attract new arrivals to the city.
A solo exhibition of photographs (“The Impossibility of Seeing what is in Front of the Eyes”) was in Lewes, East Sussex, through March 2015.
Guiding and lecturing: From the start of 2014, John (with Mary McKean) is running Cognoscenti Travel, a company offering cultural history tours to selected, and often unusual, parts of Britain and Europe. They led two tours in Italy in early summer 2014, to Ferrara, Ravenna and Urbino and one in late summer 2014 to Hannover . In 2015, tours took them to ‘The Edge of Empire’ (the long-disputed territory between Alps and Adriatic where Europes three great cultural and linguistic groups meet) and ‘The Renaissance City’ (focused on Este Ferrara and Montefeltro Urbino, with Malatesta Rimini and Cesena in between). In 2016 they will again explore ‘The Edge of Empire’ in Friuli, Slovenia and Croatia, ‘Terraferma’ in the land empire of Venice, and ‘The World of Piero della Francesca’, following his footsteps and remaining works centred in the upper Tiber valley (Arezzo, Sansepolcro, Perugia, Urbino).
John has published a successful guidebook to the works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Glasgow (being revised once more after 15 years in print) and has begun work on a guide to Urbino, Italy. He has led tours to Glasgow, Venice, Urbino, the works of Andrea Palladio and Carlo Scarpa in the Veneto, He continues to lecture, and further tours are in preparation.
Art: John paints and he draws extensively, having exhibited and published life studies and architectural images. An exhibition of his work in Udine, Italy, in April 2014 was accompanied by a lecture on “Why architects still draw.”
Books: John is the author of various award-winning books and many essays on architecture from classical Greece to today, but mostly his subjects were episodes in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century architectural design until he was commissioned a few years ago to produce a completely new scheme, and text, for the a 21st Century version of the magisterial Banister Fletcher’s History of Architecture.
Critic: He has been a regular critic over many years, publishing in Architectural Design, RIBA Journal, Building Design, The Architectural Review, Spazio e Società, Places, Architèse, as well as regularly in The Architects’ Journal (where he was a technical and then news editor for some years). He was elected to CICA (the international committee of architectural critics).
Teaching: He ran studios in the architecture and interiors courses at North-East London (now UEL), North London (then London Met) and, since 1990, in Brighton. Prior to this he taught criticism at the Architectural Association, design history at Middlesex University, and architectural design in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Media: He has discussed architects and architecture on a range of BBC and Channel 4 TV programmes and on radio, and made a film about Carlo Scarpa.