Jack Jones was celebrated in his lifetime for depicting with directness the working-class community of his childhood in pre-war Swansea. He found a ‘child-like’ style of painting that echoed several other twentieth-century artists, including Alfred Wallis, Ben Nicholson and L. S. Lowry, all now recognised as major figures. Jones was self-taught in painting but highly educated in literature. He and his French wife Huguette made their home in London, where he taught English. Their friends included Anthony Hopkins, John Ormond and Kyffin Williams. He started painting in his early thirties, when he published his biography of his hero, Van Gogh.
The streets of Hafod, between the copper works and its waste tips, were his inspiration. ‘In spite of the poverty and the ill-health’, he wrote, ‘there was a bubbling effervescence in the Hafod people.’ He showed chapels, pubs and houses shorn to their essentials. The heap of slag really did curve like a black whale above the houses but he would add a storey to a pub to emphasise its status or move buildings where he wanted them. He wandered up to Landore, down to the great town chapels, or occasionally to the mills of Yorkshire or the streets of Paris.
Jack Jones left teaching early and returned to Swansea, giving all his time to painting for his last twenty years. He died in 1993, just as a major exhibition opened at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery. His papers and a fine selection of his paintings are in the National Library of Wales.
Dr. Peter Wakelin
This is a rare opportunity to see a substantial body of work by this wonderful Welsh artist. There are more than thirty works in the exhibition, all of which are for sale.