John Armstrong was born in Hastings, Sussex. He studied at St John’s College, Oxford and at the St John’s Wood School of Art, London. During World War I he served in the Royal Field Artillery. He became a member of Unit One after which his work acquired a surrealist characteristic. Armstrong worked as a designer for theatre, ballet and films, undertook work for Shell-Mex and ICI. He was commissioned as an Official war artist during World War II. In the post war years he exhibited widely, painted murals for the Council Chamber in Bristol and the Royal Marsden Hospital in Surrey. He was an active campaigner against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and an active member of the Labour party, contributing designs for their election leaflets in 1945. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1966.

Further reading:
John Armstrong 1893-1973, Royal Academy of Arts, London 1975, introduction by Mark Glazebrook