David Jones is known for his poetic World War One memoir, In Parenthesis, but there were many strands to his artistic output. A new exhibition at Pallant House Gallery urges us to consider Jones’s whole oeuvre with his various engravings, inscriptions, drawings, water-colours, and poems forming an integral whole.
The centenary of World War One has brought to the fore one of the most remarkable accounts of war service, David Jones‘ superbly poetic memoir In Parenthesis. But a new exhibition, David Jones: Vision and Memory, at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester urges us to consider David Jones’ entire oeuvre. Artist, wood-engraver, illustrator, designer of inscriptions, poet, London-born Welshman, there are many strands to David Jones’ life. He was one of the first British modernists, and was considered to be of major importance as a writer by T.S. Eliot.
He was born in south-east London to a Welsh father and a London-born mother. As his father had been discouraged from speaking Welsh as a child, David Jones did not speak the language, but it would remain a significant component in his artistic make-up. He was talented early on: the exhibition includes a drawing of a lion produced when he was just seven. He studied at Camberwell College of Arts, where his work was described as ‘leaving everything out except the magic.’ He enlisted at the beginning of World War One, serving from 1915 to 1918, and he served longer on the Western Front than any other major war poet in the UK. This shaped his whole life.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
After the war, he returned to study at Camberwell. It was during this period that David Jones became a Roman Catholic; his religion would become increasingly important in his art. At this time he came under the influence of Eric Gill, a religious artist, and eventually joined Gill’s artistic community, the Guild of St. Joseph and St. Dominic in Ditching. When Gill moved to Wales, Jones continued to visit him and would have a long relationship with Gill’s daughter, Petra.
His initial work was in illustration, engraving and watercolour landscapes. Although his work changed style at various times, these mediums would remain key. His life was punctuated by a series of nervous breakdowns, the first major one in 1933 around the time he was working on In Parenthesis, and he suffered another in 1948. Wandering around Pallant House Gallery’s chronologically arranged exhibition, it is difficult not to come to the conclusion that after each of these episodes Jones’ work changed style and direction.
With a father who was a printer’s manager, it is not surprising that Jones had an interest in type and lettering. The style of his lettering reveals some of the influence of Eric Gill, as do some of Jones’s drypoints and engravings from the 1920s and 1930s. Engravings on wood and on copper thread their way through the whole of Jones’s career as a medium to which he constantly returned. His wood engravings for the Book of Jonah combine Eric Gill-like clarity with other modernist influences.
In his watercolours from the 1920s we can see nods to Picasso, Braque and Matisse, but woven into his own distinct style. His portraits mix firm lines with the abstract. ‘Human Being,’ of 1931, is one of only two self-portraits he painted, and his portrait of Eric Gill from 1930 is not at all Gill-like in its execution, with its supple lines and mysterious watchful feel. His landscapes show hints of Cézanne, and there is often a sense of narrative and of mysticism in them. In the 1930s, magic casements became a theme, like windows onto lyrical seascapes. David Jones was clearly very independent of others working around him, although you can see clear influences of them absorbed into a highly developed sense of his own magic.
After the Second World War (and his second major breakdown), religious and Arthurian themes come to the fore. A series of chalices can be seen as evoking religious feeling but also forming links to the holy grail. Arthurian themes are more explicitly present in works like ‘Guenever’ (1938-40). In these later works, the sense of surface detail is profuse, often incorporating complex and subtle iconography. Some are disturbing and brilliant such as ‘Aphrodite in Aulis’ (1940-41) with its undertone of sexual aggression. Or ‘Vexilla Regis’ (1947-48) with the detailed Christian iconography woven into the image of trees.
Another later work is his poem ‘Anathemata,’ which takes place in the context of mass, and which T.S. Eliot regarded so highly. With a polymath like David Jones, it is easy for one branch of his art to dominate the rest, but this show from Pallant House Gallery (and the excellent book produced to accompany the exhibition) helps us to recognize his artistic output as a balanced whole. A resolutely independent soul, David Jones’ artistic development took a very different direction to that of the modernists with whom his early work is linked, and it remains all the more fascinating for it.
The exhibition David Jones: Vision and Memory is at Pallant House Gallery until 21 February 2016, and there is a complementary exhibition, The Animals of David Jones, at Ditchling Museum linked to Jones’s period with Eric Gill’s guild in Ditchling. Jones’ poem ‘In Parenthesis’ is being turned into an opera by Ian Bell, which will be premiered by the Welsh National Opera in Cardiff on 13 May 2016.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.