Mike Jones

Welsh ( b.1941 )


  • Mixed media
  • Signed lower right

Image size 17.7 inches x 14.6 inches ( 45cm x 37cm )
Frame size 28 inches x 24.2 inches ( 71cm x 61.5cm )

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Sold by Big Sky Fine Art; this original mixed media artwork by Mike Jones; dating from around the turn of the century.
The work is presented and supplied in a sympathetic contemporary frame, mounted and behind glass.

An exceptional contemporary Welsh artist, Mike Jones takes his inspiration from the post-war culture of south Wales, the community in which he was brought up. His work ranges from portrayals of the post industrial landscapes to powerful images of the people who live there; the granite figures of men who worked in the once thriving mines and steel industry, the harshness of life for ordinary women, moments of quiet domesticity, capturing the simplicity and strength of workers and families. His work is bold and distinctive, depicting passion, pride and intimacy. Though his figures are often isolated and the context simplified, he defines the character of the people he paints, and his almost sculptural style brilliantly combines the contemporary and the nostalgic.

Mike Jones was born in Godrergraig, Neath, south Wales, in 1941. He was raised in the Swansea Valley, first in Cilmaengwyn and then in Godergrair. His father ran a pub and was also a collier. Mike therefore grew up in thriving Welsh speaking, coalmining and farming communities, and had ample opportunity for observation of people in their working lives. It was a fascination that stayed with him throughout his artistic career and which still informs his choice of subjects. Figurative work is his favourite and his affection for the men and women of his native Wales always shines through. “People attract me far more that the landscape, “he says, “I can go somewhere like Worm’s Head and rather than sketching the view I might sketch somebody sitting on the grass – it’s primarily the body language that attracts me, or something out of the ordinary”.

As a young boy Mike and his friends helped on local farms and as a teenager he worked during school holidays in the colliery with his father, always taking opportunities to draw and sketch images of people. He did not however receive any formal training in art and as a young man he did not turn to it to make a living. He worked as a laboratory technician at Pontardawe from 1956-1961, then for an office equipment company until 1970. From then he worked as a local government officer until 1996. The love of drawing and painting was however always present. Artistically, the turning point came for him in the 1980s when he became friends with the late artists Will Roberts and Josef Herman and they encouraged him to exhibit his work. He has since exhibited widely throughout Wales, both in group exhibitions and one-man shows.

The respect became reciprocal. Josef Herman said that “The figures in black and white stay in my mind… I am also impressed with the textures of his oil pastels… he is extremely gifted. “Will Roberts commented; “I have been familiar with Mike Jones’ work for some years, finding it always good, always imaginative.. Talented and sensitive, he must stand well now with the better Welsh painters.”

Mike has continued to develop his techniques and to push the boundaries of his work. He uses in a variety of media including crayon, pen and ink, and oil. He says “In drawing and painting, I endeavour to give emotions, ideas and memories a permanent form. I find inspiration in simple subject matter, women scrubbing steps, figures sitting in waiting rooms, men and women, places and times of my childhood and imagination. Through my art I try to convey emotion and attitude, which I hope, will connect with the viewer. The essence of my work is the spontaneous and intuitive response to my subject matter”. His work continues to evolve, making an important contribution to the contemporary art scene in Wales.

Mike currently lives in Pontardawe, in the Swansea Valley, and paints from his studio there. His work is increasingly sought after and is now held in many private collections and the National Library of Wales. As Wales’ industrial past fades Mike is one of the few remaining artist able to capture its essence with authenticity and his work becomes ever more poignant.

This original mixed media work is strong and powerful. The head and shoulders of a Welsh coal miner fills the frame; there is an almost physical presence to it. The chiseled face stares out, scarred, assertive, not aggressive. His expression bears the pain and pride of his work. He is wearing a miner’s helmet with headlamp, a red neckerchief and dark leather jerkin with a flash of yellow on the clothing beneath. This is an image of cultural significance, showing grit and dignity.