Johns, Emily

Johns, Emily

Emily Johns

1 October 2023Feature

Emily Johns interviews the curate who made the purchase of the Peace House possible.

Tom Willis was a curate in Hull in 1958 when he inherited £10,000 (worth over £180,000 today), the money that would buy 5 Caledonian Road for Peace News and Housmans Bookshop. PN production worker Emily Johns interviewed reverend Willis at a 50th birthday event for Number 5 in 2009, five years before he passed away.

I was 28 when I inherited the money and I thought: ‘What am I going to do with this money because Jesus…

1 August 2023Review

Spokesman, 2022; 78pp; £7.99

This is a beautifully-written biography of an artist whose life began months before the Great War and ended in the depths of the Cold War.

Gerald Holtom’s professional work began in 1935, creating joyful and life-affirming textile designs which he sold in his furniture shop in Tottenham Court Road in Central London. In 1939, the shop was requestioned as an air raid shelter.

As a conscientious objector (CO), Holtom stated: ‘A cause of war appears to me to be that, where creative…

1 June 2023Cartoon

2 April 2023Review

30 minutes; premiered at the Unlimited festival, London’s Southbank Centre last September, now touring  

Having a bath will never be the same again after experiencing Thirst Trap, an affecting piece of audio theatre which takes place in your own bathroom.

I received a black box from the postman. It puzzled me – here was a conventional home spa kit: the bath bomb, the candle, the tea sachet. I thought I had been sent a marketing gimmick by a company called Ray Young wanting to sell me something.

Eventually, by sleuthing on the internet, I realised the box was my entry into…

2 April 2023Review

Repeater Books, 2022; 492pp; £16.99

Vron Ware is exactly the sort of person I would like to go for a walk with. She picks at the landscape, sifts it through a geographer’s mind, looks at a gate, a fingerpost, and unravels a social history of land.

In Return of a Native, she brings an adulthood of feminist, anti-racist, anti-militarist scholarship and activism back to her childhood village in (North) Hampshire and examines the forces that made the place and which play out across the flinty chalklands of Pill…

1 February 2023Cartoon

1 February 2023Review

127 House, 2022; 148pp; £10 Available in the UK (for £11 incl p&p) from Jim Huggon, 59 Leiston Road, Knodishall, Suffolk, 1P17 1WQ. In the US, it’s $12.50 (plus p&p) from Trevor Blake, PO Box 3, Columbus, IN 47202, USA;

Peace News once organised an activist training in which the participants had to stand on a stepladder in Tavistock Square and deliver a speech to the passers-by.

It is a skill that people with a political opinion should have. But these days, few do.

Many quail at the simple political tool of door-knocking.

The Speakers’ Corner Anthology is a collection of writings about the famous Tyburn corner of London’s Hyde Park, by Marble Arch. There, since the mid…

1 June 2022Cartoon

1 December 2021Feature

Emily Johns reflects on her experiences as part of the Hastings group Women's Voice

Just as I was crossing the road to the gathering place for the demonstration, two women passing by asked what was happening. I said: ‘It’s a march against violence against women.’

One said: ‘We’ll come, we’ll come, we’ve just to got to take these bags home. My friend was seriously beaten up by her partner last night and she’s just left him.’

It looked like the bin bags they were carrying contained her possessions.

I found myself at the front, marching down George Street…

1 August 2021Feature

A free window poster

Click on the link below to download a printable version of the poster.

File peoples_vaccine_poster copy.pdf685.56 KB Downloadable poster

20 July 2021Review AND Civic Leicester; 152pp; £9.99

This winter, I was moved by these two creative responses to colonial history and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Ty Chijioke, the Igbo British rapper, died of COVID complications in May 2020. The huge love and respect for his person and work are evident in the inaugural project of Empire Strikes Back, an international programme for emerging multidisciplinary artists. ESB is putting together a programme of creative events around the world that challenge oppressive legacies in former…

6 July 2021Review

Thames & Hudson, 2020; 320pp; £35 (Lincoln et al) and Jonathan Cape, 2020; 272pp; £20 (Sacco)

The Arctic is our touchstone. We have been looking to it for decades for the physical signs of climate change: the retreat of the sea ice, the starving polar bears, the melting permafrost. We are looking to the North for what climate catastrophe looks like.

The British Museum curators have collaborated with Arctic peoples to create an exhibition (Arctic: culture and climate) and a series of events that could give us temperate dwellers an understanding of their culture and its…

4 July 2021Comment

Emily Johns looks at the ideas behind the Artist Support Pledge

In March 2020, as the COVID pandemic started, artist Matthew Burrows launched the Artist Support Pledge online, on the image-sharing platform, Instagram. It was a forward-thinking response to the economic collapse that artists were about to experience – it works with the principle that generosity is infectious.

The idea is simple: artists post an image of their work on Instagram and tag it with #artistssupportpledge so that the pictures can all be found in the same place. They offer…

4 July 2021Feature

A PN staffer struggles with an anti-racist book

I am white.

My earliest memories of being conscious of race and racism are from when I was 10 years old. 

I remember standing in the school hall and some boys taunting Stephen, calling him a ‘black and white minstrel’. I didn’t know Stephen well and I had never heard of a minstrel show but from the words I worked out that one his parents was black and the other was white and because of this he was being teased. [The Black and White Minstrel Show was a musical variety…

8 December 2020Review

Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE. Tues — Sun until 8 March. Free.

Play Well is a wonderful, joyful, mind-prodding exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in Central London on the importance of play in child development, in mental healthiness and emotional resilience.

It reaches from Rousseau’s treatise on education to computer gaming. The pedagogies of play shaped Paul Klee’s art, Buckminster Fuller’s design, the Bauhaus movement and Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and from town planning to identity politics toys and psychotherapy.