The valley is a knife
I was cut in the valley.
The valley is an empty coal gut.
I was born in the womb of the valley…
I must get out of the valley to breathe.
I must get out of the valley to see.
Rogelio Vallejo, in the catalogue for an exhibition of Glyn Jones at Winchester Cathedral, quotes the Welsh poet Robert Havard, who was born in the Rhondda Valley, a few streets away from the artist.
These lines indicate both the sensibilities and the experience of many artists of Welsh industrial birth. For many Twentieth Century artists in Wales this experience was indelible and although their work may no longer overtly express related themes, it is impossible for any artist to be emancipated from such conditioning. So it is with Glyn Jones. Essentially it is the ‘culturing’ of the mining valley at a particular period, and his religion, which have shaped him. Vallejo also identifies Jones with the sensibility of Spanish poet Antonio Machado, whose repudiation of logical thought processes as detracting from the inspired creativity and too much thought as inimical to change and real creativity, would find echoes with Jones: the inspired gesture, the inspirational – unconscious, even – leap is preferred.
There are few recognisable references in Glyn Jones’ paintings. They are carpets of pattern and colour, permeated with a luminosity peculiar to him. He is in the same sphere as Rothko and Gottlieb. His interest in the decorative patterns of Spain, North Africa and the East is not superficial, for although an Anglican, he sees the spiritual value in such designs and regards them as gateways to contemplation and religious experience. His works are, in all senses, deep and it is not fanciful to view them as spiritual journeys. Frequently they are lit from within, suggestive of Cecil Collins’ Icon of Divine Light at Chichester. Jones’ work is informed by history both general and personal but offers an experience capable of appreciation by all cultures, the one described by that (now, for some reason embarrassing word) beauty.