Tuesday, 16 October 2012


I have been back for two weeks now and have been so mentally busy, that I am only now able to blog about my recent trip to Australia! It was the trip of a lifetime and Darryl and I did so much that it would take me days to tell you all about it.

I have always romanticised the notion of travelling to the other side of the world. This romanticising became an obsession and that obsession had to become a reality for me to feel complete.

Taronga zoo is amazing. It is built into the side of a steep hill across the harbour from Sydney overlooking the city.  First we had to get the ferry across the harbour which was exciting in itself but when we got there we realised that it had only just begun. We got up close an personal with koalas (stereotypically) tigers, lions, bears, Tasmanian devils, giraffes and hundreds more.

Out of the 20 most venomous snakes in the world, 15 live in Australia and I saw the number one guy the "fierce snake". I have always loved animals and the fauna of Australia is so unlike our own. Their special animals are under so much stress created by us that they are losing some of the most unique animals this world will ever see on a daily basis. When Western man first came to Australia about 180 years ago he didn't just bring dogs (which are now their wild dingos) and guns. They brought the unsuspecting rabbit. No animal like the rabbit existed in Australia and when some clever dick released a dozen into the wild for a bit of sport, devestation followed. Rabbits did what rabbits do and they bred. Low lying vegetation was devoured and was defenseless to their gnashers. small ground dwelling marsupials and birds lost their homes, aoriginal people lost many sources of food and water and disease spread. Years later, we tried to undo this problem by releasing mixamatosis. This wiped out about 99% of the rabbit population. Pretty good huh? Not really. The ones that were left were immune, and althoug they were only a small number, they had bred like .... and are now running around again but are little bit tougher thanks to un natural selection, if you like.

Sydney is a pretty mental place. The people there are really laid back and really do take their leisure time seriously. The beaches and parks are full at the weekend and all the shops and businesses are most definitely shut.  They are still a very young city and development is everywhere. However, it isn't too easy to live there at the moment. House prices have soured so it is near impossible for people to buy for the first time which is a shame. There isn't too much crime, but we always watched the news in the hotel so we knew what was going on and what crime there was shocked us a bit. I have built up an interest and knowledge of aboriginal art. Their culture has always fascinated me. These people are only 0.6% of Australia's total population now. Their is a real problem with how to respect the original peoples of the country who lost so much when we came along and how to live with them. The two cultures do not exist very happily. There are many aboriginal and Torres island strait languages which was never a problem because they were always separated by hundreds of miles of land, yet they shared the same respect for the land. This is now an issue beacause "white man" has tried to group them together and work out a way in which they can contribute to this new society. Aboriginal people seeem to feel very isolated and lack purpose. There is frequently storied on the news about issue with alcohol. The police do not help these people when they turn to drink, they just send them back to their communities to wreak havoc. I do not want to sound overly negetive because I imagine that it has been very hard to strike a balance, and this issue is still not resolved. It will be, I am sure of it. Work is being done to offer education to aboriginal people in how we western people work, yet to maintain their culture. One of the key ways that this is being done is through art. People are buying aboriginal art which gives purpose to communities and funds what they need.This leads me nicely on to my next topic.

Galleries and Museums were at the top of our to do list. We went to the Art Gallery of NSW first to get a good feel for the art scene in Sydney. It is in the heart of the Royal botanical gardens and houses the region's greatest collection of Australian art. It was really interesting to see how they exhibited some key pieces of European art from the renaissance to the pre-raphaelites really. They then followed into the early settlers works. These were very airy fairy and romantic, with lots of grand landscapes. The rest of the space is dedicated to Australian artists and I found it really interesting as these names were mostly unknown to me. Grace Cossington Smith, Brett Whitely etc etc some of whom had obviously been influenced and were a part of some on the key movements througout the 20th Century yet being a Western educated person, I was educated on western artists. So, without boring you, I bought a lot of books and really enjoyed myself. We were actually there for their Biennale. This was spread across the Art Gallery of NSW, the Modern Art Gallery and Cockatoo island. We enjoyed getting the boat to cockatoo island to finish up out tour of the bienale which used to be an old dock yard and has a lot of history for the Australian people.

We climbed sydney harbour bridge! That was epic. It took three hours and we learnt a lot about why this bridge was so important. It used to take a whole day of travelling to get from the north to the south side of the harbour and people felt very separeated. The bridge brought them together and they then became a truly great city.

A great thing we did was to go out for a long hike into the blue mountains. It took two hours to drive to our starting point from Sydney. The walk was exhausting but totally worth it because we really got to see the land of Australia and the exotic flora it produces. There is nowhere else like it in the world. The trees are completely unique and most actually need fire to disperse it's seeds. This baffled me becase forest fires are devastating in the UK, but in Australia they are a littlerally a way of life. On this hike we visited some sacred places to the aboriginal people such as the three sisters. You are not supposed to tell the story if it isn't yours to tell, so I will let you guess why these peaks are so important :)

I had my first experience of sea sickness too. We went whale watching on this tiny raft which had to go out about 8 miles to sea to get to where the humpback whales were. I have never felt so rough! It was fantastic though and there were so many whales all around us. They are beautiful creatures, so big, yet so gentle. They swam around us looking at us and you could tell they were so curious as to what we were doing there! Due to 2m high waves, I didn't get any good photos. This really is the best one! You will have to trust me that they were there.

We did so much more, but I wanted to write down a bit of it for you to read if you want. I would go back tomorrow if I could. I've never felt so comfortable in a foreign country. I could have forgotten we weren't at home if it wasn't for the cockatoos and kookaburras flying past our heads!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Venice and my Rennaisance adventure!


So we planned a family holiday a month ago.... and I convinced everyone to go to Venice!
Except..... Dad had to work the Olympics and Andrew caught really bad tonsilitis and was hopitalised for two nights just before we were due to travel. Un-deterred, me, Mum and Ashley packed our hand luggage and headed off onto out easy jet flight.

We made it! After landng in Venice we took a taxi to the island and thought it best to walk what seemed 500 m to our hotel. It took an hour. Finally, we made it to our hotel at about 11pm and got a beer which tasted like the best beer in the world after that slog!

We woke up to this.....

And after finding a place to have a coffee and weirdly green venetian cake we went off on our adventure.

Yes, that is my Mum in the floppy hat next to my hairy giant of a brother.

We took our time finding the Gallerie Accademia, which is another way of saying we got pretty lost. You see, the thing is, Venice doesn't have roads, so when we were following the map and it looked like we could just follow a canal and we would get there, well that wasn't quite right. You need to cross about 20 bridges and 10 squares to get 50m down the road! As "itinerary coordinater" I was getting pretty miffed and was glad to get to a cold museum.

It was a great museum. Truly venetian. The gallery follows a chronological arrangement Titian, Tintoretto and Carpaccio seemed to be heralded as the height of Venetian renaissance masters, to whom the accadamy are still indepted too. Mum and Ashley were getting a bit bored of Virgin Marys and bleeding Christs on crucifixes, so we went and had lunch.

We headed over to St Mark's square where we went into the Museo Correr. We only stayed there an hour and said we would go back as we were knackered from all the walking and 32 degree heat!

 It was pretty awesome. It is their chief civic museum joined to the archealogical museum.

The next day we found our coffee shop and decided to buy a water bus ticket for the next few days. We headed out to Murano! The water buses are amazing! They are punctual, quick and surreal. The bus conductor ties up the boat to all the stops and you jump on or off quickly as they don't hang

We were at Murano within the hour where we had the nicest day. We went straight to their museum where we saw the most fantastic pieces from 300 BC to the present day! I had no idea that the italians had been making this glass for so long and with such detail. My favourite was seeing some really famous artist's work in the medium, as they must have been really influenced by it upon visiting the island. 
This is Chagall!

We then went and saw them making it. That was pretty awesome, although super touristy. I think it is fascinating how much pride they have in their export, and we saw some stunning things made of it in the shops on the island.

The next day was good. We went to the Basilica first thing and as usual, I was inappropriately dressed. I had to wear these paper cloths around my shoulders and legs as I had shorts and t shirt on. It was absolutely gorgeous inside and out. The legend goes that St Mark was greeted by an angel who told him on the night he took shelter in Venice on his way back to Rome that this is the place where his body will rest. in 828 the body of St Mark was stolen from Alexandria and brought back to Venice where this shrine was built up around him. You see these winged lions holding books all over the place, and this is the emblem of St Mark.

We then visited the Doge's Palace, which was honestly, the most ostentatious law courts and council chambers I have ever even imagined. The prisons attached to the building were even quite roomy!
Titian's adorn the walls which are dark wood, marble, stucco and gold.

Oh yeah, we did a gondola ride!

On our final day we visited the Santa Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari, a boring building to see from the outside clad in red brick. However, I am so glad we went! Titian's "Assumption" soars above the altar. Titian is also buried in this building under a marble monument that is bigger than my house. He was the only person to be given the honour of being buried in a church having died of the plague. Opposite his tomb, is a monument to another revered Venetion, Canova. I get the impression that Canova was a bit in love with himself, because he designed this tomb himself to be built by his disciples following his death. Take a look and see what you think.....

We also paid a visit to San Giorgio Maggiore which is Palladio's church built across the canal from our hotel. I had a chance to have a bit of a sit down and draw here.

Our hotel was near the Santa Maria Della Salute, so we decided to pay it a visit on our way back to the hotel before leaving for our flight. We had seen people dancing the tango on the steps of this building two nights before at midnight. In the daylight it was impressive to behold.

It was a nice way to end the trip, as this is a peaceful church. You do not have to pay anything to enter. You do not need to be too concerned about what you are wearing. It was quiet enough to pray and beautiful with it's high renaissance art adorning the walls. This church was built when the plague claimed one third of Venice's population, and is a peaceful place to be.

I will tell you something for nothing. I would go back tomorrow.

J x

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Print of the day

I visited Gloss gallery in Exeter today, which is a sizable commercial gallery tucked away 2 minutes from where I work in town. Marc Chagall's "Paradise" from the Jerusalem windows of 1962 was my favourite print that I saw today. The extensive range of Lithographs and etchings on show spanned a number of decades which Chagall created during his lengthy career. I have always admired Chagall's work for his ability to blend religious iconograhy with folk imagery whilst adding fantastical colour into the mix.

Born a Russian Jew, he moved to France to develop his artistic style. Chagall did not wish to associate himself with a particular movement, however his work (certainly influenced by Cubism and Fauvism) went on to inspire the Surrealists. His work had it's own unique vocabulary and reminds me in many ways of the work of William Blake, with his natural depiction of Christian messages.

Obviously, the Nazi's didn't like him very much, even though only a few years earlier, his work had been heralded in Germany. He was extradited to America just in time, and had a lifetime of success.

I enjoyed this print particularrly because it shows muted tones uncommon in most of Chagall's work. This is a side of him I had never seen before today. I also personally find the trope of a woman with red hair cast as the sinner a time-withstanding one and always have a chuckle to myself when I see it.

I am working on a series of prints at the moment based on my own favourite folk tale. It is early days, but here is a picture of a few sketches I did today for it. They will be linos with a few colours.

I will be illustrating the Hans Christian Anderson story of "The Wild Swans". It is something I have been dying to do for a while, and I am looking forward to getting stuck into the project.

Monday, 7 May 2012


RAMM is back, and I love it!

My wonderful Mum came to visit me in Exeter from Reading last week. We went on a trip to Royal Albert Memorial Museum as it opened back up recently after about 5 years (!) of closure. I did go with my partner Darryl, a month ago, but we didn't get to spend much time in there, so I was eager to get back and have a good look around.

Wow, there have been working hard!

The ethnograpic collection has been totally modernised. The displays are cleaned up, decluttered and informative. The Victorian desire to collect is still tangible, by being informed throughout how vast the collection is, and being able to see the vaults behind glass. Yet, what is on show leaves nothing lacking.

I was most impressed by the new gallery wing. Garry Fabian Miller is a photographer I have not had huge dealings with in the past, yet his exhibiton "Home Dartmoor" was very well placed in Devon's wonderfully refurbished museum.

His large scale prints were beautiful and mesmerising. Miller takes all of his inspiration from Dartmoor, having lived there most of his life. Dartmoor is his nexus. His works have evolved from looking into the heart of Dartmoor and using it's history and it's beauty to inspire work that is thought provoking and very contemporary.

I bought his book "Home Dartmoor" from the gallery shop and read it in a couple of days. the prevailling theme throughout the catalogue, which is a discussion between Miller and his contemporary agriculturalist Tom Greeves is that Dartmoor is a history book and should be respected.

I looked at the collection of flint tools, prints of leaves and the "camera-less" photographs and felt that the exhibition perfectly mirrored RAMM's aim of chronicalling Devon's history. Garry Fabian Miller just went the next step and showed us how we have always and will always respond to Devon.

Been too long

I'm back!

I have been away for a long time! I didn't really think it was a good time to be blogging as I had a lot going on. It has all settled down now, so I am going to get back onto it!

I will write a few posts before I publish this blog anywhere just to get the hang of it again.

My aims from this blog are to show off what work I have been doing lately, what books I have been reading, what exhibitions I have been going to, and generally vent my creative side.

In case anyone doesn't know, I work as a Manager of a jewellery store in Exeter and I love my job, as I work with and meet amazing people every day. However, I have been settling into my new house with my partner and saving the pennies a bit which has meant that I haven't given much attention to my Art. This is all changing, and I will document my revival as I go, on here.

I recently went on a little trip to st Ives, and here is a lino cut I produced when I got back. Let me know what you think.

Porthleven is a wonderfully dynamic place. I practically grew up there, and I only have fond memories. It is an acive fishing port, with a healthy respect for the sea. I always wondered how that church is still standing....

My Dad used to take us right up to the wall even if there was a hurricane going on, and I wanted to recreate that tumultuous weather with this print. It is simple, but I did it at home and mainly from memory.

To sign off, here is a picture of Darryl and I doing exactly what I was doing 20 years ago, exploring!

Monday, 4 October 2010

I'm going to blog this, life's too exciting not too!

Hi everybody!

Welcome to my blog. I won't write too much at this time, as I am still getting used to this new setup. Just a quick hello, and a few reasons why I am going to be writing in the future.

My name is Jamie Louise Jones, I am a twenty three year old graduate living in Exeter. My twenty three years on this planet have been amazing, and there is still so much to come! I think i am going to enjoy blogging, and the reason I have titled it my big adventure, is because that is exactly how I see things; one big adventure!

I shall say adieu for now, but I will be back shortly to detail my observations on life, from art to beer to music, I shall be writing about it all!

Bye for now,