Nerys Ann Johnson was born on 1 October, 1942, in Colwyn Bay, North Wales. In 1961, she went to study Fine Art (Painting and Art History) at Durham University, and made her home in the North East. In 1967, after teaching Art for two years, she was appointed Keeper of Fine Art at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle. In 1970, at the early age of 28, she became Keeper-in-Charge of the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Museum and Art Gallery. There, she created original exhibitions of contemporary art, including Henry Moore: Head-Helmet, an exhibition to mark the 150th anniversary of Durham University (1982); Moments of Being, a touring exhibition curated for the Arts Council (1988), and A Fresh Look, a touring exhibition of drawings and paintings by 20th century British artists.
Nerys’s work is held in various public collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Museum of Wales, the Laing Art Gallery and the Arts Council Collection, and is also to be found in many private collections in the UK and abroad.
Nerysgave instructions that her artworks, left in her studio, be sold and the proceeds used to help public galleries acquire paintings by living artists. The charity Nerys Johnson Contemporary Art Fund, was established for this purpose.