Flowers Gallery presents an exhibition of recent work by Lucy Jones produced over the previous three years, from the beginning of the pandemic to the present day.
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Ranging from unsettling new perspectives on once familiar landscapes, to the investigation of self during a continuing period of global upheaval, Strange Times presents an engaging personal response to living with an uncertain future.
The titles of the landscape paintings, such as The Beginning of the Beginning suggest a shift in Jones’s outlook while working closer to home in Shropshire during lockdown. In 2 Metres Apart, the title and corresponding position of two bushes in the landscape reflect a sense of altered spatial awareness, as measurement and distance became a shared aspect of daily life. Following the lifting of travel restrictions, Jones went on search of new locations to paint, for example, producing Will it Rain Today in mid-Wales. Overcoming the challenges of physical disabilities, Jones paints on the ground, therefore seeking elusive vantage points from gaps in hedgerows, remaining close to her car by the side of the road. The connection between viewpoint and access highlights boundaries to the embodied experience of landscape, both seen and unseen. In these paintings the muted tones of distant hills and brooding skies are enlivened with flashes of luminous colour, revealing the prevailing spirit and endurance of nature.
The painting Being 66, Being, (winner of the 2021 Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize,) is a naked self-portrait capturing the vulnerability of the human body and the defiance of the artist, who turns her gaze towards the viewer. The title of the work also refers to an earlier self-portrait Being 50, (2005). In Being 66, Being Jones once again draws attention to a personal milestone as a marker of how female bodies age and change, and the visceral effects of time. The notion of a milestone also relates to a threshold or a new beginning, and in this painting, the challenging glance and an adjacent door suggest a bold step into the unknown.
In recent years, Jones has also turned her attention to creating portraits of other people, and this exhibition includes a painting titled Kathy (2021), in which the vibrant palette and expressive brushstrokes coalesce with the vigorous gesture of the sitter. Writer and Art Critic Philip Vann has described Jones’s portraits and self-portraits as showing “the inextricable dignity and vulnerability of other people, friends, loved ones and the artist herself – explored with a rare, expansive clarity, vibrancy and originality”.
Installation view, Lucy Jones: Strange Times at Flowers Gallery, Cork Street, London, 2022 © Lucy Jones. Courtesy of Flowers Gallery