Christopher Jones is an artist who works within, across and between painting, printmaking and collage, often incorporating the photographic image. His practice reflects an interest in the 'expanded field' of painting, where the discipline-specific characteristics of painting are dissolved and combined with those more typical of sculptural, printmaking or installation practices.
Bundanon Unmonumental: Just, 2011
In his recent practice Jones has been concerned with establishing visual equivalents to the relationship between site, memory and the passing of time. To this he brings an interest in the "unmonumental": work characterised by small scale, rudimentary material and understatement.
Developed as part of a Daiwa Foundation Small Grant Award, ‘In-Between’ is a body of print assemblages that combine traditional and digital printmaking processes as a means to present visual models for the perception of shifting temporal change. In doing so, the work grapples with the notion, articulated by Gilles Deleuze, of the present as a temporal multiplicity in continuous flux.
The project asks whether print processes (which enable image reproduction) and collage processes (which offer a framework of varying permutations) might offer appropriate technical means to model the ambiguities and inconsistencies of our perception of passing time.
In-Between: The Complex Moment, 2008
Technical inquiry including visits to museum print collections, Japanese printmakers and paper producers, was complemented by site visits to the inner and outer shrines at Ise Jingu1, Japan, to gather source material and on-going practical exploration in the studio.
Applying hybrid print and collage procedures to imagery sourced at Ise Jingu, Jones produced a body of resolved works in three series:
In-Between: Fragments of exterior and interior imagery, and images of the organic and the man-made, were brought together to offer fluctuating readings. This was mirrored in shifts of technical process whereby, for example, a motif produced by woodblock would be physically inserted into a digital print.
After Sebald: Source imagery was first digitally manipulated to suggest motion and then printed by ink jet printer onto a range of papers. Traditional and digital methods were then used to print imagery of a more static character. Fragments of these two sets of material were then physically integrated.
Between the Hour & the Age: hugely magnified digital images of natural regeneration were set against miniaturised images of deconstructed architecture, and swatches of pure colour. In this series large-scale ink-jet printing, and tiny fragments of chin-collé and silkscreen were combined.
Between the Hour & the Age: Ground 2008
Engaging with emerging technical print innovations, in which centuries-old traditional methods come into a relationship with digital print media, ‘In-Between’ was exhibited at the Japan House Gallery, Daiwa Foundation, London (10th September – 9th October 2008). This included a public lecture and discussion introduced by Prof John Milner (Courtauld Institute) and chaired by Prof Marie Conte-Helm (Director, Daiwa Foundation). The project publication, published by Northern Print, is available in an artist-produced, limited edition of 100, printed on Bockingford papers using original digital files.
A downloadable pdf edition is available from: In-Between
1 A revered Shito shrine in Japan which every twenty years is de-constructed and rebuilt using traditional materials and processes to 'reproduce' the preceding architecture. Ise Jingu provided a model of temporal flux as well as a reference point for other aspects of the project, namely notions of tradition and reproducibility.
‘Between the Hour & the Age’ resulted in two related bodies of small-scale paintings and photomontages made as models for the visualisation of memorial trace in response to Hill End, New South Wales, Australia.
Hill End became one of the busiest and most prosperous inland towns in Australia between 1850-70 due to significant gold finds. At its height the gold-rush town had a population of over 8,000 but suffered a rapid decline once gold ran out in the 1870's. Hill End now also occupies a key position in the history of Australian visual culture due is its rediscovery as a ghost town in the late 1940's by two key figures of Australian modernism – Russell Drysdale and Donald Friend. The scarred landscape and abandoned buildings depicted in Drysdale’s work radically challenging the romanticized landscape depictions of the prevailing Heidelberg School and contributed to a clear shift in the direction of Australian painting. Now a small community of 100 people and a designated heritage site, Hill End retains the ground plan of the 1850's and well-preserved vestiges of both its gold rush history and modernist artistic legacy.
The development of the body of paintings and photomontages was focused on an intensive period of work on site following Jones' successful application to the Hill End Residency programme. Prior to the residency preparatory study of the history of Hill End informed a choices of scale, material, painting supports and equipment.
L: Gold, 2011 R: Set, 2011
In his series of paintings, Jones employed the recurring motif of vernacular architecture to consider three kinds of memorial trace at Hill End: architectural disintegration, vestige of gold-rush history and Hill End's current position as a heritage site. Miniature, shaped metal supports in copper, gold-plate, zinc and steel were employed as supports for the oil paintings, chosen for their allusion to forms of souvenir or aide-memoir such as photographic plates, interpretive panels, postcards and early photographic window-mounts.
Haefliger Series: 2, 1 & 4, 2011
Jones' series of photomontages was developed from the study of a single Hill End property dating from 1850: Haefliger's Cottage, which bears the direct imprint of two of the so named "vernacular modernists" from the 1950's, artist Jean Bellette and her husband, art critic Paul Haefliger. Photomontages, mounted on shaped steel plate, were formed from fragments of cheaply produced, standard 6" x 4" photographs of the colonial era interior, furniture, fixtures and fittings.
Concerned with the physical encounter with evidence of the past, Jones’ work is framed by discourse on the nature of the miniature and the gigantic.
Exhibition installation, BRAG, Bathurst, NSW
For exhibition in January 2013 at BRAG, Bathurst, NSW, Australia, the works were laid out in horizontal, steel and perspex cabinets employing a typical museum form of display whereby precious objects can be inspected closely whilst a degree of physical separation is enforced. The exhibition subsequently toured to the Jean Bellette Gallery in Hill End itself with a selection of paintings also being exhibited in October 2013 at Papirbredden, Drammen, Norway.
Six of the photomontages now belong to the Hill End collection of BRAG alongside works by leading figures of Australian painting including Russell Drysdale, Brett Whiteley and Jeffrey Smart. Apparition, from the series of paintings, was shortlisted for the Marmite Prize for Painting IV, which toured to five venues in the UK in 2012/3.
Developing an assemblage process predicated on a direct relationship to site, and within set parameters of small scale, found material and simple forms of photography, in ‘Unmonumental’ Jones "makes diminutive structures that propose alternatives to the size and weight of traditional monuments" (Professor Chris Dorsett).
The project was developed in stages structured around three intensive artist's residencies, each attached to a highly particular location:
During a four-week residency at Bundanon, situated close to the banks of the Shoalhaven River in New South Wales, Australia (October 2011), Jones' made a body of speculative assemblages combining on-site photography with small-scale found objects to explore the potential of the understated amidst what Arthur Boyd, Bundanon's founder, described as “the uniqueness of the Australian landscape and its metaphysical and mythical content”.
Bundanon Monochrome: Vortex, 2011
At Studio Kura, in the rural area of Fukuoka Prefecture on Kyushu, Japan (July 2012) processes developed at Bundanon were applied to the development of an installation for a 100-year-old rice grain store (or kura) set in the rural surroundings of Itoshima. The installation comprised 18 assemblages, formed from on-site photographs and object collections, positioned on walls at various heights, on ledges and set on three utilitarian pieces of furniture abandoned in the space – a rustic bench, table and workbench.
For the Silo (Fukuoka), 2013
In October 2013 Jones' undertook a residency within the urban setting of the regenerated city-centre area of the Papirbredden knowledge and cultural park, in Drammen, Norway. Here the principles of site-dependent assemblage were applied to the development of an installation for the city's heritage-listed paper silo or ‘siloen’. Assemblages combining objects found on site with photographs of the silo itself were installed in its interior – a brick built, cylindrical tower-like space approximately 12m in height.
For the Silo 2 (Drammen), 2013
Jones presented work arising from the project in a series of public open studios, workshops, artist's talks and installation exhibitions in Australia, Japan, Norway and the UK. A book, 'Unmonumental', published by Northern Print, includes project documentation alongside essays by Chris Dorsett (Professor of Fine Art at Northumbria University) and Finnish artist Meri Nikula which address the work's relation to site, monumentality and to the notion of mobility as a creative condition.
Work in progress, Studio Kura 2013
Emerging from recent work are a number of interests that form the basis of Jones' plans for an on-going painting practice: disjuncture of scale, understatement and temporary displacement amongst others.
For the Silo, 2013
To find out more about Christopher Jones’ practice, visit: http://www.chrisjonesweb.com