Pete Jones is scheduled to hold a solo exhibition at the Storiel Gallery in Bangor during 2021 (9/10/21 to 31/11/21 - Pandemic
permitting). Y BAE" ('The Bay") will be a personal exploration of the area in which Pete grew up. Intial work has been based upon the natural topography of
the area and has been strongly guided by personal memory, cultural influences and emotion. In addition to a new set of paintings a short film and music by
Pete Jones will also be on show. During what has become an elongated preparation period Pete has completed numerous works including those featured here.
These may or may not feature in the final exhibition. Pete has created a short film to support the
exhibition of new paintings at Storiel, Bangor, September 2021.
Huge gratitude to Pamela Williams-Ogg for permission to include the poem "Hirael vanished sea village" by her father
Heartfelt thanks also to Garry Stuart for allowing use of some of his stunning photographic
portraits of the people of Hirael during the 1970s.
Link to film:
April 2nd 2021 Wales Arts Review published this short essay by Pete Jones regarding Y BAE
Y BAE - EXHIBITING DURING LOCKDOWN - PETE JONES.
the postponement of his solo exhibition Y BAE, Pete
on the fluid nature of creating art during a pandemic and how his collection draws personal and cultural inspiration from his childhood in Hirael, Bangor.
My next solo exhibition of paintings was set to take place in the Storiel
Gallery, Bangor during early 2020. Like so many events, the world-wide pandemic has made it necessary to re-schedule and the show is now due to begin during
September 2021. Similar to my previous solo show at Oriel Ynys Mon during 2019, there is a large autobiographical element to the paintings. The show is entitled “Y BAE” (The Bay) and is an
exploration of the area in which I grew up, the Hirael area of Bangor.
I wanted to explore the context
in which this new collection of work is being prepared. As an artist I begin with feelings about a theme, person or place. The process of painting can be all consuming and sometimes takes some work
in directions that I had not planned, “accidents” and “chance” are important. I think that I generally try to create a “visual ambience”, a feeling for a place rather than a photographic
reproduction of what is before me. This has led to some of my recent work becoming more abstract in form. I have also started to experiment with sound and film.
Hirael Bay was made from sea
and slate. The maritime and slate industries were the foundations for its development during the 19th and early twentieth centuries. Penrhyn dock was once the biggest slate port in the world. The
community of Hirael was a proud one, all the world was there…. Sailors, Pious chapel goers, Drinkers, Composers, ship builders, poets, slate splitters, fighters, foundry workers, saints and sinners.
I grew up in Hirael during the 1970s, a time by which much of the industry had gone. Looking back there was quite a bit of what could be described as dereliction. Our playgrounds included empty
houses and half-demolished streets, disused military huts “on Beach” and the old foundry. Music was important to us, the dominant beats in Foundry Street, were Northern Soul and
The smell of the sea (and mud
during hot summers) was strong and a reminder of our proximity to the deep. Hirael has always been prone to flooding from the sea. Large parts of Hirael are below sea level and its people have lived
through many a deluge over the years. The council used to issue sandbags for us to place in doorways. I remember the feeling of dread whilst watching levels rise outside our backdoor – these feelings
inspired the painting “Breuddwyd am storm yn Bae Hirael” (Dream about a storm in Hirael Bay).
The bay is tidal, when the sea
is out a large expanse of mud is laid bare, brown and smooth apart from the area that is the site of the skeletal wreck of a boat. When I was a child, the “ribs” of the boat stood proud, and I often
fantasised that it was the remains of an old Viking ship (it wasn’t). Little remains of the vessel these days, perhaps a metaphor for the area itself.
Football was a major activity
during my childhood. The main street game was “10 lives“ which was played against any wall. There was a team of older lads, including my brother, called Bangor Dynamo, my first football heroes. There
was a pecking order with local football – the younger lads always wanted to play with the older ones, but it was a “closed -shop”. When they actually allowed you to join in with them, due to lack of
players (or willing goalkeepers) or some other reason, you felt ten feet tall. Most games took place “on beach”, a football field directly overlooking the sea, a sea into which many balls were lost.
During hot summer evenings curlews would call from the mud and large groups of boys would play football on the edge of the sea. It was here that I would often gaze out at the horizon and wonder what
was beyond it. Whilst at school I recall reading about an artist who stated that the sea was a “symbol of the infinite” (Monet, I think, but my memory fails). Whoever that was, that assertion was
something that resonated greatly with me and has stuck with me throughout my life. Horizons play a prominent role in the show for example “Y Gorwel bell” (The far horizon) and “Gorwel ” (Horizon),
the latter image being almost reduced to abstraction.
At the Northerly point of
Hirael Bay lies the Garth area and its Victorian pier. The Pier was an important feature in my childhood. I remember walking on the pier as a small boy and seeing the green sea fall and rise between
the cracks of the boards. I remember squeezing mam’s hand as tightly as I could, afraid that I would fall through those cracks. I would later spend many summer evenings trying to catch mackerel or
“flatties” with the other lads, it was a fun place to be.
As I get older, the pier, now
with its memorial benches, nameplates and bouquets feels more like a place of remembrance. My painting “Hiraeth” has attempted to capture the essence of that feeling, featuring a roughly painted
bouquet of dying roses blowing away in the wind. Whilst undertaking the work for this exhibition a gamut of feelings have driven the work ( hopefully without being overly sentimental). Cezanne, I
think, once suggested that a work of art that did not begin in emotion is not art and I take comfort from that.
Whilst the process of painting
has continued, I have also ventured into film making, creating a short piece which reflects this context in which the work has been created. Two cultural reference points have been important to me in
this process, the poems of local man T. Llewelyn Williams who wrote about his own life in Hirael, and a series of photographic portraits of the people of Hirael taken by photographer Garry Stuart
during the mid-70s. Garry took these images whilst a contemporary of the film director Danny Boyle during his time at Bangor university. These bodies of work have impressed me over the years and have
encapsulated much of what I feel for the area. Some of their work features in the short film that I have made to show at the exhibition. Also included within the film is my own “soundscape”. Whilst
not a musician my adolescence during the punk era gave me the confidence to experiment with music, an approach which probably leads to my attitude towards painting in so far as I am not precious
about my work. I have been experimenting with ambient electronic sound and hope that the results compliment the imagery presented within the film.
The extended lead into the
exhibition due to the pandemic has meant that much of the original work has been discarded and new work created. As I am not precious about my paintings I will often paint over “finished” works. With
several months left before the exhibition it may be that the final work for it has not yet been created.
Y BAE is
rescheduled for exhibition at the Storiel Gallery in September 2021.
The article can be viwed on the Wales Arts Review Website via this link:
"Breuddwyd am storm yn Bae Hirael" (Dream about a storm in Hirael
Bay). Oil on canvas, 82cm x 62cm.
"Ghost ships" Oil and acrylic on board, 141cm x 80cm.
"Detritus" Oil on canvas, 78cm x 60cm.
"Sgerbwd" ("Wreck") Oil in canvas, 76cm x 51cm.
"Môr Dwyll" (Dark Sea) Acrylic on canvas, 92cm x 71cm.
"Machlud" Oil on canvas, 30cm x 30cm.
Astudiaeth am "Angal y
môr" (Study for "Angel of the sea") ,Oil on canvas, 30cm x 20cm.
"Gorwel 1 " Oil on canvas, 60cm x 50cm
"New dawn fades" Oil on canvas, 60cm x 50cm
"Er Cof" Oil on canvas, 105cm x 83cm.
"Hiraeth" Oil on canvas, 60cm x 50cm.
"Môr Glas" (Blue sea) Oil on canvas, 104cm x 83cm.
PEN DOMAN 1 Oil on board, 60cm x 60cm.
PENDOMAN 2 Oil on board, 76cm x 50cm.
"Jar", Oil on canvas, 57cm x 35cm.
"Y gorwel bell" (The distant horizon) oil on canvas 120cm x 90cm
"Mor Iwerddon" (Irish Sea) Oil on canvas
"Traeth Lafan" Oil on canvas, 25cm x 21cm.
"Seidar i frecwast" (Cider for breakfast)" Ink and pencil on paper. 57cm x 35cm.
"Blood and the wild sky" Oil on canvas.
Untitled - Oil on canvas. 30cm x 30cm
"Lleuad" (Moon) - Oil on canvas. 30cm x 30cm
"The Killing Moon" Oil on canvas
"Pregethwr". Oil on canvas
"The Night Swimmers" Oil on canvas