The discovery of the work of Jean Jones (1927 – 2012) in a small cottage on Dartmoor has become something of a phenomenon.
Over the past three years we have been showing work by this extraordinary artist and helping to reclaim her rightful place in the History of Art. So far the gallery has focused primarily on her paintings of the expansive Dartmoor landscape she loved. This new exhibition introduces a collection of previously unseen paintings which were made beyond Dartmoor – in Oxford and London.
Jean Jones lived in Oxford for most of her adult life because of her husband’s academic career but often felt dismayed at the sexism and snobbery of the city’s celebrated literati. Her Oxford pictures evoke the dense fabric of the ancient city, for example, using unusual perspectives – looking up at trees and streetlamps, or across a river towards the opposite bank. In this way, she effectively includes multiple layers of the city in single images – rivers, walls, roads, trees, leaf covered ground and low hanging sky.
In 1991, Jean and her husband John moved to Primrose Hill where Jean felt more at home. She could be seen painting under Primrose Hill’s oak trees and became a fixture of the neighbourhood where she is still remembered by many, including boxer Frank Bruno who used to pass her on his morning runs round the hill. Her Primrose Hill canvases are among her simplest and most ordered compositions. Pathways and the intervening stretches of grass become blocks of pure colour atop which sit groupings of trees and lone lampposts. This approach captures the thoughtful landscaping of the park – as a calm haven from the noise and chaos of London.