If I am going to be totally honest, when Brent Beamon of Flowers Gallery in NY reached out to me about the possibility of interviewing Lucy Jones, I wasn’t familiar with her work. A quick look at her profile and I was immediately hooked. I knew she would be a great artist to introduce you to and spend some time getting to know. With echo’s of Maria Lassnig, Alice Neel and Marlene Dumas, Jones’ work has a raw, direct take on self-awareness. The following works are taken from her show currently running at Flowers Gallery (through May 9) and will serve as her introduction…
Take the time to look at her work and you will begin to unpack her story more fully. Beyond the color and brushstroke there is a power and spirit that vibrates just above the surface. Lucy’s work draws you into a conversation beyond the paint and asks you to evaluate your own perceptions and understandings and how you apply these to the evaluation and judgement of the ‘other’. Lucy Jones is an artist on the deepest level; bold, self possessed and truthful (not just the artful ‘honesty’ that is thrown around).
So, let’s get to it-
As always, the RC is about a casual conversation-sitting down over a cup of something good and getting to know more about an amazing artist…
Thank you Lucy for taking a few minutes to share your experiences-I am so happy to have you here on the RC!
What is your favorite drink to unwind with?
Well I suppose it’s a glass of wine although I am drinking much less so I enjoy a cup of tea. My favourite Rose tea has just been taken off the market so I find myself trying to find another satisfying drink.
What books are you reading now and why?
I have just finished Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch recommended by my sister. I don’t think she realised just what a great book it was to read during a trip to New York. And so appropriate as the book revolves around a painting.
If you weren’t an artist what would you be doing?
If I was not a painter I find it difficult to imagine what I would be doing. I might be teaching but who knows. I was going to do a University course in geography but decided that if I was going to be a teacher teaching art seemed like a better option as I am severely dyslexic.
What is something about yourself that people don’t know about you?
That would be telling.
Who/what is a major influence on your work that people might not realize?
I think teachers have played a part in my work. I went to a quite unusual school called “King Alfred”, a progressive school so called anyway. We were allowed to do a lot of art and decorative arts. When I got to art school, after my 1st year I was told by a tutor who moved to New York called Graham Nickson that, if I got my finger out, I could be a good artist. This gave me enough of a shock to realise I might be quite good although I never thought I could make a living out of art.
What’s your biggest pet peeve about art criticism?
Art criticism is mostly too academic and does not look at art from the artist’s point of view.
What has been your most memorable rejection?
There are so many things that one is rejected from. There is something called the “John Moore’s” which I have got into but this last year they did not take my work. Likewise the Royal Academy does not always take my work. I used to get very upset but slowly over the years and also having the opportunity of sitting on some of these selection panels one begins to realize that being rejected doesn’t necessarily have much to do with the work. I now try and psyche myself up and just assume that I will not get something so when you do get it you can be pleased and when you don’t you don’t go on the downward roller coaster.
Has rejection changed how you thought about your work or changed your direction in any way?
I don’t think rejection has changed my work. I have always had a very powerful notion about the direction my work should go and working as a painter is a risky business if you want to make a living out of it. I suppose the change I made was when Graham told me to get my finger out and that I could be quite good if I did.
Can rejection be a positive thing?
Yes I think rejection can be positive. I got on several shortlists for residencies – this would have been after I got back from my Rome scholarship – and did not get any of them. It was really better for me to get a studio in London and start trying to be an independent artist rather than continuing in a semi-educational role.
What advice would you offer to other artist’s, or folks in general, about rejection?
Rejection is part of life and, although it can be difficult to brush aside, if you have a enough of an idea of where you are going you just have to keep at it. One other thing a tutor said about me was that I had stamina. I didn’t know what he meant at the time but nothing comes quickly to me. I think of my life as being a series of 10 year projects.
Thanks again Lucy!
An artist out of the UK, Jones attended Camberwell School of Art and the Royal College of Art, where she won a prestigious Rome scholarship in 1982. She has works in numerous collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY and her work has been featured in the London National Portrait Gallery, the Scottish National Portrait gallery and multiple other notable exhibitions.As I mentioned before, you can find Lucy’s work at Flowers Gallery in NY. You can also visit her at lucyjones.com.