Mike Jones: 1941 – 2022
Thursday January 13, 2022
Words don’t come readily when faced with loss. The passing of Mike Jones, an admired, popular, and much-loved figure within the artistic community of the Fosse Gallery has dealt us a great blow. Recognised as one of the most prominent artists from South Wales to portray post war industrial communities, he sits alongside distinguished figures such as Josef Herman RA and Will Roberts.
Mike Jones was a very well-known and very respected artist in his own right when I met him for the first time in 2009. I was looking to do an exhibition of celebrated contemporary Welsh artists and Jones’ figurative style had impressed me for ages; indeed, he was top of my list! It was like meeting a long-lost friend the lucky day I visited Mike and Eryl, we hit it off immediately and a wonderful collaboration and friendship with the Fosse Gallery began.
Mike quickly became my ‘go to’ for all things Welsh. He would readily discuss ideas, Welsh artists I was interested in, make introductions and generally be supportive in my endeavours to bring Welsh artists to a wider audience here in Stow on the Wold.
His effortless style and distinctive language touched so many. He gained a wide audience quickly and although many of his buyers were not themselves Welsh it didn’t matter a jot; he had captured something that spoke to them and that was all that mattered.
It was a huge thrill when two of Mike’s oil paintings were selected and hung at the 2015 RA Summer Exhibition. We all made a day of it when Varnishing Day arrived, the traditional time when artists can see their works hung there for the first time. What a celebration we had, an abidingly wonderful memory.
It will be so strange not to talk to Mike anymore, his paintings are always around my desk. But how lucky and proud I have been to represent him in a professional capacity and to have his and Eryl’s friendship for all these years. His artistic legacy will live on forever.
Sharon Wheaton, Fosse Gallery
Mike Jones to an artist from an artist – Mick Rooney RA
Mike Jones, artist, represents perhaps the final link with that fierce industrial history of Britain, now irrevocably changed. The architecture remains, but the rows of terraces no longer echo to the boots of miners heading towards the shaft.
In historical terms, what a short time span it is from writers of conscience such as Emil Zola and DH Lawrence and painters the likes of Courbet, Permeke, Van Gogh, Joseph Herman Wales adopted son, to Mike Jones.
There is in his work traces of that mysterious Welsh word ‘Hiraeth’ that the English translate as ‘Longing’.
But only traces for life down the mines, in the shipyards, the steelworks and the armament factories was deadly and Mike Jones’ monumental portrayals speak of those who survived and remain.
With simple authority and with fundamental mark-making materials – charcoal, pencil, graphite, conte and of course paint, Mike Jones moulds the human clay.
His dedication to a record of time passing, of men passing, will live on in the world as an integral part of our collective memory.
Mick Rooney R.A.