David Jones: Vision and Memory
24 Oct 2015 – 21 Feb 2016
A reappraisal of the revered poet, engraver, painter and draftsman.
Polymath David Jones worked across a number of disciplines throughout his life, and is often considered as one of the 20th century’s most significant British artists. As a poet he was revered by the likes of TS Eliot and WH Auden, who lauded his harrowing writings that imbued the true horrors of the First World War.
Serving longer than any other major war poet, he was a front line foot soldier with the Royal Welch Fusiliers and was wounded at the Battles of the Somme. His experience was hugely influential in the shaping of his artistic vision, which often contained imagery relating to themes of sacrifice, morality and mythical tales.
This exhibition coincides with the centenary of the war, presenting over 80 works which range from sketches made in the trenches, to watercolours and engravings made between 1926 and 1932. These beautiful pieces bear the influence of the sculptor and engraver Eric Gill, who ran the Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic in Ditchling, Sussex. It was here that Jones learnt the art of wood engraving and pursued more religious themes prompted by his conversion to Roman Catholicism.
Extended stays in Wales and Portslade, Sussex also saw responses to the myths and landscape of the Welsh countryside, as well as a continued preoccupation with the sea. Pallant House Gallery presents key paintings from this period, as well as the first drafts of his epic war poem In Parenthesis.
To complement this display, Edmund de Waal has been commissioned to create a contemporary response to Jones's work, entitled If We Attend.
Jones painted the intimate portrait The Garden Enclosed in 1924, depicting himself and his then-fiance Petra Gill (daughter of Eric Gill) in a touching embrace. Although the engagement was eventually broken off, this portrait is a record of their loving relationship.