Saving Jonah Jones mosaic and windows in Morfa Nefyn

February 2019

Closed in 2016, the Catholic Church of the Resurrection of Our Saviour contained a remarkable set of 12 dalle de verre windows by Jonah Jones and one of his finest mosaics, this one depicting Christ the Holy Redeemer.

The Diocese of Wrexham deserves praise for its enlightened approach to these irreplaceable assets. Unlike some other public owners who allowed work commissioned from Jonah Jones during the 1960s and 70s to be destroyed a few short decades later because of refurbishment or demolition, the Diocese, advised by David Hughes for Lawray Architects, Wrexham, has decided to engage experts to remove, restore and relocate the windows and mosaic elsewhere in the Diocese.

At the time of writing, work is well in hand for the removal of the mosaic by Rieveley Ceramics of Waunfawr, near Caernarfon, as these photographs show:

MN mosaic_2

MN mosaic_3

MN mosaic_1

For the windows, the Diocese contracted Scene & Word due to the expertise of Alun Adams, one of our directors and formerly the co-ordinator of the Architectural Glass Centre (AGC) at the Swansea College of Art. Having surveyed and evaluated the church and windows and drawn up a plan of action, Alun arranged for the work to be subcontracted to a team from the AGC under the direction of Owen Luetchford, assisted by Stacey Poultney.

Two of the windows were taken out in early January to be loaned to Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Llanbedrog, for the seven-week duration of the centennial exhibition there, for which the gallery chose one as a centrepiece of the show. The removal of the remaining ten windows will be completed shortly, after which we will add photographs to this article.

Sylwadau a thrafodaeth am “Dear Mona” / Comments and discussion about “Dear Mona”

February 2019

Menna Baines yn/in Barn: Abertawe/Swansea, Chwefror/February 2019:

Mae Dear Mona yn gofnod rhyfeddol o’r modd y bu’r wraig hael a goleuedig hon nid yn unig yn gymorth ond yn ysbrydoliaeth i Jonah.
Dear Mona is a remarkable record of how this generous and enlightened lady [was] not only a help but an inspiration for Jonah.

Buzz Magazine: Cardiff, January 2019:

These are letters from the heart and the mind… He’s good company: it’s an inspiring read with the bathos, humour and shared experiences. … a coming of age through real-life letters.

Dear Mona was discussed on Radio Cymru’s Dewi Llwyd ar Fore Sul programme on 3 February.

Peter (Pedr) Jones, the editor of Dear Mona, contributed a feature to the February issue of the BBC’s Prospero magazine. Click here (to zoom in/out, roll the wheel on your mouse and allow a few seconds for full focus)

Media coverage of the Jonah Jones centennial exhibition

February 2019

There has been extensive media coverage across Wales of the centennial exhibition at Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw. Aired on 12 February and presented by Angharad Mair, S4C’s evening magazine television programme Heno paid a visit to the exhibition and included interviews with Jonah’s son Peter (Pedr), Gwyn Jones (director of Plas Glyn-y-Weddw) and the sculptor Meic Watts. A TV clip will be added here when available.

In the arts programme Stiwdio on BBC Radio Cymru on 20 February, presenter Nia Roberts interviewed Jonah’s children Peter and Naomi, Nia Roberts (contemporary arts curator at Plas Glyn-y-Weddw; no relation to the presenter), Robin Llywelyn (grandson of Clough Williams-Ellis and manager of Portmeirion) and Meic Watts. Listen here (Welsh language; duration 26:43 mins)

The day the exhibition opened, 26 January, the Western Mail Weekend magazine carried a full-spread feature by Jenny White about the show titled Celebrating Jonah Jones’ centenary. Click this link to read the article (best viewed at 100% zoom).

Another full-spread feature by Non Tudur appeared in the 7 February issue of the Welsh-language magazine Golwg. Click this link for the article.

 

Centennial exhibition opens at Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw

January 2019

Some 200 guests attended the opening of the exhibition at Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Llanbedrog, Pwllheli on 26 January, many of whom had travelled considerable distances to be there. Following an introduction by Gwyn Jones, the gallery’s director, the exhibition was opened by David Townsend Jones, who spoke on behalf both of Jonah’s family and Scene & Word. For his full speech, during which he announced the publication of the new paperback edition of The Gregynog Journals, click here.

Highlights of the speech included:

  • Tributes to the skill, hard work and dedication of the team at Plas Glyn-y-Weddw. David presented gifts of The Gregynog Journals to Gwyn Jones (director), Iwan Hughes (museum curator) and Nia Roberts (contemporary arts curator).
  • Appreciation of the extraordinary array of talented artists brought together by the gallery for the Connection element of the exhibition. In part this involved artists with personal and professional connections with Jonah: Meic Watts, Howard Bowcott, Claire Langdown, David Nash and Sarina de Majo. It also included other artists – Vivienne Rickman Poole, Aled Prichard-Jones, Richard Higlett, Simon Callery, Menna Angharad, Chris Bird-Jones, Rob Piercy, Janet Smith, Rachel Stewart and Bill Swann – described by David as having “some historical or thematic link to Jonah … who all found a way to express, through their imagery, their love of this part of Wales”.
  • Thanks to those who had provided conservation and restoration skills and sheer hard labour to bring previously damaged or degraded pieces up to exhibition standard: Mark Sawyer at the Lampeter campus of the University of Wales Trinity St David (two sculptures: Bethel I (Jacob at Peniel) and Bethel II); and Owen Luetchford and Stacey Poultney at the Architectural Glass Centre of the Swansea College of Art (the dalle de verre window from the former Catholic church in Morfa Nefyn, kindly loaned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wrexham).
  • Thanks to the many collectors, both private and public, who had loaned works to the exhibition.
  • A particular tribute to Portmeirion for generously sponsoring the exhibition catalogue, providing sufficient funds to enable a permanent volume of the highest design and production standard to be published.
  • An announcement of the decision by the trustees of the Diocese of Wrexham to have all the windows and the mosaic at the former church in Morfa Nefyn expertly removed for eventual relocation to other buildings in the diocese. This will form part of a separate story, or a series of stories, when more details are known.

After the opening, Peter Jones gave an illustrated talk about the life and career of Jonah Jones. This was followed by a bilingual group discussion, led by Gwyn Jones, about personal memories of Jonah, involving Robin Llywelyn, the managing director of Portmeirion; David Sherlock, chairman of GTA England, who was Jonah’s assistant director at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin from 1974–78; and sculptor Meic Watts, who during the late 1980s shared a workshop with Jonah. Both events attracted audiences of about a hundred.

The exhibition will run for six weeks until 17th March and will include a programme of related events involving some of the Connection artists:

  • Family Drop-in Workshops run by Richard Higlett, inspired by Jonah’s calligraphic works
  • A calligraphy workshop with Janet Smith
  • A trip to Portmeirion for a guided walk with Rob Piercy

For further details about the exhibition and the various activities, visit www.oriel.org.uk

exhibition_1 exhibition_2 PGyW criw

Photographs: Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw

Scene & Word on Facebook

January 2019
Bringing the next generation – Jonah’s grandchildren – onto the board has added new skills that enable Scene & Word to engage with a wider audience through social media. A new Facebook page (search for ‘Scene & Word’) will soon be augmented on other platforms.

New directors join Scene & Word board

January 2019

Two new directors, both grandchildren of Jonah, have joined the Scene & Word board: Daniel Trodden and Robin Ritter-Jones. Daniel is principal tuba player for the National Orchestra of Wales and Robin is a teacher and musician.

Peter Jones to deliver lecture on Jonah Jones to CASW

January 2019

Peter Jones will deliver a lecture titled ‘The Life and Work of Jonah Jones’ to the Contemporary Art Society for Wales on Saturday, 23 February as part of the group’s monthly Saturday talk series at Lisvane Memorial Hall, Cardiff. Talks are normally open only by pre-booking to members and their guests.

Preparations for Jonah Jones centennial exhibition being finalised

January 2019

For several months, gallery director Gwyn Jones and curator Nia Roberts have been working closely with the family members of Scene & Word’s Board of Directors to select work for the centennial exhibition at Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Llanbedrog, Pwllheli. The exhibition will open on 26 January 2019 and will run for six weeks until mid-March.

A highlight of the show will be two windows on loan from the Diocese of Wrexham, from the now-closed Church of the Resurrection of our Saviour in Morfa Nefyn. All twelve windows by Jonah and his great mosaic of the Holy Redeemer are to be removed from the site, restored and relocated to churches elsewhere in the diocese.

For further details of the exhibition, visit the gallery’s website: https://www.oriel.org.uk/en/whats-on

New paperback edition of Jonah Jones’s “The Gregynog Journals”

January 2019

At the end of the month, Scene & Word will publish a paperback edition of The Gregynog Journals.

The book was first published in casebound (hardback) format in 2010, in a limited edition of 350. The whole edition was printed in full colour on acid-free, cotton-rich mould-made paper, but the book blocks were only individually sewn and hand-bound when each order came in.

With some unbound book blocks still remaining unsold and in stock, the company’s Board of Directors decided to put them into a soft cover format and offer them at much lower cost than the original version.

The new paperback edition will be available at £20 and will be launched at the opening of the Jonah Jones centennial exhibition at Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw on 26 January 2019.

BBC Radio Cymru to carry discussion on book of Jonah Jones letters

December 2018

At 17:30 on Sunday, 6 January, Peter (Pedr) Jones will be in conversation with Dei Tomos on the Dei Tomos programme on BBC Radio Cymru about Dear Mona: Letters from a Conscientious Objector by Jonah Jones.

Article on book of Jonah Jones letters published by Cardiff magazine

December 2018

Whitchurch and Llandaff Living has published a two-page, 1,500-word article by Peter Jones about the newly published book Dear Mona: Letters from a Conscientious Objector by Jonah Jones. The magazine circulates 6,000 copies in north-west Cardiff.

Zoom to read this article.

Click on the image to view the article in a readable size.

Letters by Jonah Jones now published by Seren Books

November 2018

Dear Mona: Letters from a Conscientious Objector by Jonah Jones, as edited by Peter Jones, has been published by Seren Books. It can be ordered on https://www.serenbooks.com/productdisplay/dear-mona-letters-conscientious-objector

Launch of “Dear Mona”

October 2018

Seren Books have announced that the launch of Dear Mona: Letters from a Conscientious Objector by Jonah Jones, edited by Peter Jones, will take place at Insole Court, Llandaff on Wednesday 14 November, at 6.30pm.

“Dear Mona”: a new book by Jonah Jones

September 2018

On 8 October Seren Books will publish Dear Mona, a new book by Jonah Jones and his son and biographer Peter Jones.

Dear Mona

In the words of the announcement on the Seren Books website , the book, subtitled Letters from a Conscientious Objector:

“… records in his own words not just the story of his early life and his relationship with Mona Lovell, but also that of the Second World War, of being on the Home Front, on the European battlefield and in the nascent Israel.

These letters are a remarkable first-hand account of how Jones’ character evolved. Like a number of conscientious objectors he eventually took a more active role in the fight against fascism by becoming a non-arms-bearing medic. In this role he was parachuted into northern Europe and took part in the Ardennes and German campaigns, and in the liberation of the Belsen concentration camp.

After the war he was posted to Palestine, where he observed the issues surrounding the establishment of Israel, but was also able to hone his artistic skills for the benefit of his regiment. It was in Haifa that, much to Mona Lovell’s dismay, he met and married another woman – Judith Grossman – with whom he returned to Britain to set up as an artist, now known as Jonah Jones.

Dear Mona gives detailed insight into the evolution of Jones’ character, as he changed from gauche Len Jones to artist Jonah Jones. It also tells in intimate detail the story of the Home Front, of conscientious objection, of the European campaign following D Day and of the tensions in Palestine, which resonate still today. It is a remarkable, immediate account: personal, intimate and yet also history, played out before his eyes.”

Peter Jones, author of the biography Jonah Jones: an Artist’s Life, published by Seren Books in 2011, has edited this fascinating extended correspondence between Jonah and Mona. He has written an article about this extended and exhaustive project for Cymod, the newsletter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales/Cymdeithas y Cymod. You can read Peter’s article by clicking here.

Jonah Jones centennial exhibition at Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw

June 2018

2019 will be Jonah’s centennial year and to celebrate it a lifetime retrospective exhibition of his work is being organised at Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Llanbedrog, Pwllheli, for six weeks from 27 January to 17 March 2019. The wide-ranging show will include examples of his sculptures, paintings, lettering and glass from both public and private collections. In addition, numerous artists who were in one way or another colleagues of his have been invited to contribute works that they feel will reflect the relationship or comment upon Jonah’s distinctive approach to his own work.

Jonah Jones artwork to be removed from Morfa Nefyn church

May 2018

The Catholic Church of the Resurrection of Our Saviour, which contains dalle de verre windows and a mosaic by Jonah Jones, has been sold having been closed in 2016 [click here for story].

Both Beresford Adams, the estate agent dealing with the sale, and Rebecca Garratt, Business Support Manager for the Wrexham Diocese, confirmed that the artwork would be removed by specialists from the church before it is handed over to its new owner. It will then be stored until it can be installed in a new church in the Diocese.

Jonah Jones artwork moved from Loyola Hall to new sites

December 2017

Fr Matthew Power SJ, the former Superior of the old Jesuit retreat centre at Loyola Hall, in Rainhill on Merseyside, has informed Scene & Word Ltd that some of Jonah Jones’s work in the chapel there has been relocated by the Jesuit Province.

Following the closure of Loyola Hall in 2014 [see ‘Jesuit retreat centre with Jonah Jones artwork to close’ story, August 2013, below], the large rood cross has been incorporated into a new chapel in the village of Hurst Green, Lancashire, which has been a Jesuit parish for many years [click here for link to image of the rood cross on Wikipedia].

The Stations of the Cross have gone to St Beuno’s, the Jesuit retreat centre at Tremeirchion in North Wales. At the time of writing they have still to be mounted.

Loyola Hall itself was sold recently to an hotelier. Fr Matthew understands that the new owners are keen to retain Jonah Jones’s stained glass [example below]:

LoyolaHall_004

Photograph: Stephen Brayne

The Hall will be used as a marriage venue, amongst other things.

Limited-edition book and print by Jonah Jones chosen as Welsh gift to Breton town

June 2017

Mumbles, the seaside village on the Gower edge of Swansea, has been twinned with Hennebont, a historic town of some 15,000 people in southern Brittany, since 2004 and the two communities have developed strong links and close friendships. In June 2017 a party from Mumbles Community Council (MCC) and the Twinning Association of Mumbles made an official visit to Hennebont. On 22nd June gifts were exchanged between André Hartereau, the mayor of Hennebont, and Pamela Erasmus, the vice-chair of MCC, on behalf of the two communities.

For Mumbles’ gift to Hennebont, MCC purchased two items from Scene & Word’s An Artist’s Life in Wales limited-edition collectors’ set: the book Jonah Jones: the Gregynog Journals and one of the three prints, Llyn Caseg Fraith and Tryfan / Llyn Cau and Cader Idris, which was originally painted by Jonah in 2001.

David_14_webBoth works are now held in the town hall in Hennebont, where the print hangs in the mayor’s parlour and the book has been added to the collection of fine volumes in the town hall library.

Jonah Jones biography reviewed in ‘Art and Christianity’

November 2016

The Winter 2016 issue of Art and Christianity, the quarterly journal of Art & Christianity Enquiry (ACE), carries a full-page review of Peter Jones’s book Jonah Jones: An Artist’s Life. The reviewer, John Morgan-Guy, is Acting Chaplain at the University of Wales Trinity St David, Lampeter. “As an artist believing in the unity of art, Jonah Jones sought to respond to the call of beauty, and to express it, so that others might encounter it, relate to it, and respond to it, in their turn,” he writes. “Peter Jones has given us an insightful, honest and often moving insight into the life of his father.”

The ACE website can be found at http://acetrust.org/. Its Ecclesiart section features Jonah’s dalle de verre windows and mosaic at Morfa Nefyn Catholic church, which was closed earlier this year and now faces an uncertain future.

Click on this link to read the full review: ace-review-2.

Talk on Jonah Jones in Mumbles, Swansea

October 2016

On Friday 11 November Jonah’s son and biographer, Peter Jones, will be giving an illustrated talk titled ‘The Celtic Tradition in Art: The Life and Works of Jonah Jones’ at Norton Village Hall, 7 Norton Avenue, Mumbles, Swansea SA3 5TP. The talk for the Twinning Association of Mumbles will start at 7.30 pm. Tickets are £10 and include freshly cooked homemade dinner (BYO wine: glasses provided). Tickets from Sarah Lever at john.lever@btinternet.com. Further information at mumblestwinning.org/peter_jones_talk.html.

Scene & Word finds Jonah Jones work in Newport and Stoke in good condition

October 2016

Too often Scene & Word has had to report on threats to the public work of Jonah Jones, or highlight cases of damage. So it is good to find instances of well-preserved work at churches that are not facing imminent closure.

Members of the Board of Scene & Word Ltd recently visited the Catholic Church of St Patrick in Newport, and were pleased to find most of the artwork there in excellent condition. In particular it was good to see that the south-facing dalle de verre window has suffered only very minor damage after more than 50 years in situ [click here for images of the window (the first two in the Stained Glass gallery) and the other artworks (images 7 to 11 in the Busts and Other Media gallery)].

This contrasts with the fate of glass installed during the same period at the Church of the English Martyrs at Hillmorton, Rugby [click here for story: scroll down to Jonah Jones windows at Rugby church lost (January 2014)].

Peter Jones, a Board member, also visited the Catholic Church of St Augustine of Canterbury at Meir, on the southern outskirts of Stoke-on-Trent. Jonah’s fine sculpture of St Augustine stands on the east façade of the church, and looks as good as new after over half a century there.

stoke-on-trent_162104

Sculpture, ‘St Augustine’, by Jonah Jones, circa 1965. Photograph: Maggie Smales.

Jonah Jones’s Aberfan plaque featured in national daily

October 2016

The i on 22 October carried a photo of Prince Charles signing a book of remembrance for the Aberfan victims at the village’s community centre. Jonah Jones’s plaque commemorating the opening of the centre by the Queen in 1973 can be seen prominently behind the Prince of Wales. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

aberfan-plaque-in-i

Morfa Nefyn church with Jonah Jones artwork at risk of demolition

June 2016

The Church of the Resurrection of Our Saviour at Morfa Nefyn on the Llŷn Peninsula, which contains important artwork by Jonah Jones, has been included on a list of churches to be closed by the Catholic Diocese of Wrexham.

Faced with falling congregations and the difficulty of recruiting new priests to replace those retiring, the Bishop of Wrexham, Peter Brignall, announced in a pastoral letter issued on 31 March that the 62 Catholic churches in the diocese (which covers all of North Wales) would be reduced to around 40 by 2020. Some of them, including Morfa Nefyn and the Church of the Holy Spirit in Cricieth, where there is a beautiful small Madonna figure and an external relief of the Holy Ghost carved by Jonah, were to close “immediately, i.e. within weeks”, the Bishop wrote.

The parish of the Church of Our Lady and the Welsh Martyrs in Overton – which includes a carved wooden figure by Jonah of St Richard Gwyn – is to be merged immediately with the parish of St Anne’s in Wrexham.

The church at Morfa Nefyn houses 12 dalle de verre windows and a mosaic of the Resurrected Christ, created by Jonah in 1967 or 1968. David Jones, Jonah’s eldest son, describes the windows as “a demonstration of him using glass in a very modernistic, emotional and abstract way to flood an enclosed environment with intense colour”; “one is surrounded on all sides by these long rectangular slices of blazing light, and the spirit is immediately lifted and the heart moved”.

Morfa Nefyn glass

Composite view of four of the twelve windows

Mosaic of the Resurrected Christ

Detail: mosaic of the Resurrected Christ, Morfa Nefyn

These churches all stand on prime building land, and there is a very real possibility that they could be demolished to bring in much needed revenue for the diocese. Unless the Jonah Jones artwork can be retrieved before this happened, we could see a repeat of events at the Church of the English Martyrs in Rugby, where four large windows by Jonah were dismantled and the glasswork lost for ever [click here].

Scene & Word Ltd is grateful to Noel Hulmston, a parishioner in Morfa Nefyn, for drawing attention to the Bishop of Wrexham’s plans. Scene & Word will now examine ways of saving the Jonah Jones artwork for the future and try to ensure that it is not lost.

Relevant online articles:

From “Stained glass in Wales”:  http://stainedglass.llgc.org.uk/site/400
From “Imaging the Bible”: http://imagingthebible.llgc.org.uk/site/400
From the Cambrian News: http://www.cambrian-news.co.uk/article.cfm?id=104918&headline=Churches%20set%20to%20close%20as%20part%20of%20%E2%80%98radical%E2%80%99%20changes&sectionIs=news&searchyear=2016

Jonah Jones windows at Rugby church lost

January 2014

The four large windows made by Jonah Jones for the Catholic Church of the English Martyrs at Hillmorton, in Rugby, Warwickshire, have been dismantled and the glasswork has now been lost for the future.

Jonah made the dalle de verre (slab glass) windows during 1965–66. Each was 30 ft wide and up to 12 ft high at its apex – the largest such windows Jonah made. (A section of one of the windows adorns the foot of this website’s home page, while further images can be seen here: click the JONAH JONES IMAGE GALLERIES link, then the STAINED GLASS section, and find images 25–29.) The windows were part of the series of collaborative projects between Jonah and the architect E. Bower Norris, and were based on the theme of the crown of thorns.

The dalle de verre technique was in its infancy during the 1960s, and unfortunately the structural matrix for the windows proved to be inadequate. The flimsy concrete transoms provided insufficient support for the window panels, and were very poorly bonded at the sides. This was an architectural fault. As a result the lower panels were liable to be crushed by the weight of those above, and when the first transom broke loose it brought the panel above it down.

fallen transom

Before the windows were removed, this shows the smooth surfaces and ends of the loose transom, which had fallen onto the outer ledge below the window. The panel above it had fallen into the church!

The south and west windows became unsafe, although the other two windows remained sound. The parish consultative council ultimately took the decision to remove all the windows, which took place over the course of 2012. The glass panels were then stacked in the wrong way (in horizontal layers instead of vertically) on the ground adjacent to the church, resulting in such extensive damage that the artwork is now beyond repair or re-use.

damaged glass at Rugby church
Aidan McRae Thomson, a stained glass artist who attended English Martyrs Church for many years, described Jonah’s windows as “something that inspired and fascinated me from an early age”. He campaigned unavailingly for the windows to be saved, and Scene & Word Ltd is grateful to him for his efforts and for the frankly tragic photographs, shown above, which he supplied of the dismantled glass panels. Scene & Word would also like to thank Fr Malcolm Glaze, the former parish priest, another advocate for the windows, who made it possible for them to be recorded before they were removed.

New light cast on Jonah Jones’s emergence as an artist

January 2014

A large cache of letters written by Jonah Jones during the years of the Second World War to his friend and mentor Mona Lovell has thrown new light on his emergence as an artist.

Mona was the librarian at Felling public library on Tyneside, where Jonah got his first job after leaving school in 1936. She advised him in his reading and introduced him to her circle of Quaker friends, thus playing a vital part in his intellectual development. The two became close friends, and remained in regular touch after Jonah left the area.

David Lovell, Mona’s nephew, contacted Peter Jones, Jonah’s biographer, to inform him of the letters which he had inherited from his father. The letters reveal that Jonah came very close to giving up the idea of becoming an artist in 1941, and illuminate his experiences as a conscientious objector working in forestry, then as a medic in the 6th Airborne Division. Peter is now examining the cache and will write up a summary for later publication.

Jesuit retreat centre with Jonah Jones artwork to close

August 2013

Scene & Word has learned that the Loyola Hall Spirituality Centre at Rainhill on Merseyside, where the chapel contains important artwork by Jonah Jones, is to close after Easter 2014.

During 1965–66 Jonah made a pair of large stained glass windows for Loyola Hall based on the “Immortal Diamond” image of the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins [click here for the ‘Jonah Jones’ page on this website, then click the ‘Jonah Jones image galleries’ link: there are four images of windows at Loyola Hall,  numbers 21–24 in the  ‘stained glass’ set]. He also carved a fine wooden rood cross of the crucified Christ, a set of slate stations of the cross, and a concrete glass side window.

The Society of Jesus – the Jesuit Order – announced the closure on the Loyola Hall website on 12 March. The decision was made because there are now insufficient Jesuit priests to direct more than one large retreat centre. Residential retreats will continue to be provided at St Beuno’s Spirituality Centre in North Wales.

While no decision has yet been made about the future of the house and grounds at Loyola Hall, Fr Matthew Power, the Jesuit Superior at the centre, told Scene & Word that it was possible they would be leased out. He added that the Order did not want to put Jonah’s work at risk – it has always been loved and admired by those working at and visiting Loyola Hall. Scene & Word will keep in touch with Fr Power in case any concerns arise about the safeguarding of the artwork.

A celebration of 90 years of ministry at Loyola Hall took place on 31 July. During the thanksgiving mass in the chapel Fr Power paid tribute to Jonah’s work in his welcome remarks, and again the sacred art was mentioned in the litany of thanksgiving.

Dwy genhedlaeth, dau fyd / Two generations, two worlds

Mawrth 2013 / March 2013

Mae erthygl gan Menna Baines yn Barn, Mawrth 2013, yn edrych ar ddwy arddangosfa oedd i’w gweld yn yr Amgueddfa Genedlaethol, yn tystio i ddawn a gweledigaeth dra gwahanol dwy genhedlaeth o’r un teulu yn y byd celf: yn perthyn i Jonah Jones yn Y Gair, ac i’w ferch, Naomi Jones, yn Animeiddio Cymru.

An article by Menna Baines published in Barn, March 2013, looked at two exhibitions showing at the National Museum of Wales, witness to the very different talents and visions of two generations of the same family in the world of art: those of Jonah Jones in The Word, and of Naomi Jones, his daughter, in Animating Wales.

Jonah Jones exhibition at National Museum of Wales


December 2012

An exhibition surveying Jonah’s work, ‘Jonah Jones: Y Gair/The Word’, is on show in Gallery 13 at the National Museum of Wales until 7 April 2013. The show provides an introduction to Jonah’s output and explores his own statement that the Word in all its forms was central to his life and art. The exhibition, curated by Oliver Fairclough, Keeper of Art at the NMW, opened on 6 December 2012 when David Townsend Jones, the artist’s eldest son, speaking on behalf of Scene & Word Ltd, delivered the keynote address about Jonah and the importance of the show (click here for the text).

The exhibition displays works lent by Jonah Jones’s family and friends and admirers, as well as pieces in public collections around Wales. Three superb examples of the artist’s earlier carvings – Jacob and the Angel, Abraham II and The Blind – are on show. Paintings include a wide range of his lettering, as well as a selection of his designs for the Welsh-American Portfolio (1984). A slide show of Jonah’s commissions for Catholic churches and chapels at Ratcliffe College in Leicestershire, Newport and Morfa Nefyn is on display. Examples of his journals, mixing text and sketches, can also be seen.

As part of the event two lunchtime talks were delivered in Gallery 13. Peter Jones offered an introduction to the exhibition on 11 January, and Prof Tony Curtis talked about Jonah Jones and the image of writing on 25 January. Both talks were well received by appreciative audiences. The exhibition was listed by The Times in its events notices on 23 February.

Talk on Jonah Jones at Bangor University

November 2012

Peter Jones is to deliver the annual T Rowland Hughes Lecture at Bangor University, giving an illustrated talk on the development of Jonah Jones’s visual art. The lecture, which is being supported by the North West Wales branch of the Art Fund, will take place in the Main Arts Lecture Theatre, Main Arts Building, Bangor University at 5.30 pm on 14 November (see http://www.bangor.ac.uk/news/full-event.php.en?nid=10204&tnid=10204).

Reviews of Jonah Jones biography

August 2012

Reviews of Jonah Jones: an Artist’s Life, the biography by Peter Jones (Seren Books, 2011, ISBN 978-1-85411-556-0), have been published in the New Welsh Review and Planet.

Wall sculpture safely removed and securely stored


July 2012

The wall sculpture Y Bont was successfully removed from the disused students’ accommodation at Coleg Harlech over the weekend of 23–24 June 2012, and has been securely and safely stored.

The removal was carried out by an expert team from Swansea Metropolitan University under the direction of Architectural Glass Centre Co-ordinator Alun Adams, who is a director of Scene & Word Ltd. Consultancy support was provided by the sculptor Michael Watts, who from 1988–1991 shared a studio with Jonah in Minffordd, Penrhyndeudraeth (and who still works there).

With the sculpture finally saved for the future, the focus will now shift to finding it an appropriate new home in Wales.

Removal of Y Bont

The team at work on the final leg of the three-day removal project. The ochre panels reveal the original background colour. Photograph: Alun Adams

Storage of Y Bont

Inside the container where the sculpture is securely stored. Photograph: Alun Adams

New home for artist Jonah Jones’ Coleg Harlech sculpture

May 2012

An article published online on BBC North West Wales News on 30 April 2012 also announced the proposed plan to move Y Bont to the adjacent redeveloped St David’s Hotel. It includes rare BBC TV archive footage about Jonah dating from 2002.

Plan to save sculpture from demolished block

April 2012

An article published in the Cambrian News on 26 April 2012 announced a proposed plan to move Jonah Jones’s sculpture Y Bont from the condemned students’ block at Coleg Harlech to the redeveloped St David’s Hotel on a site adjacent to the college campus.

Launch of Jonah Jones biography and ‘Gregynog Journals’ in Cardiff

February 2012

A party was held at the Kooywood Gallery in Cardiff on 3 February to launch Jonah Jones: an Artist’s Life and Jonah Jones: The Gregynog Journals.

The biography, written by Peter Jones, was published recently by Seren Books. The Gregynog Journals, edited by David Townsend Jones, was published by Scene & Word.

In a speech to the guests Peter Jones emphasised the need to conserve and protect Jonah Jones’s remaining public works. Reminding the audience of the many pieces that have already been lost, he said that the survival of Jonah’s work should never be taken for granted. A constant effort would be necessary to save his sculptures, church glass and mosaics for the future. Peter urged everyone who valued Jonah’s legacy to join Scene & Word in safeguarding the works and locating the funds needed to do this.

Peter Jones talking at book launch

Peter Jones speaking at the launch of his biography of Jonah Jones. Photograph: M Felton

Several of Jonah’s painted texts were on show at the launch, together with a display spotlighting the threat to Jonah’s work.

Scene & Word would like to thank Mick Felton of Seren Books for arranging the launch and Neil and Rhian Jones of the Kooywood Gallery for hosting the event.

The three prints of painted texts by Jonah Jones published by Scene & Word can also be bought in the Kooywood Gallery, at 8 Museum Place, Cardiff CF10 3BG, as well as direct from Scene & Word (click here for more details).

Threat to Jonah Jones’s public works reported in ‘Golwg’

February 2012

On 2 February the Welsh-language weekly magazine Golwg published an interview with Peter Jones about Jonah Jones’s life and work. The same issue carried a report on the campaign to find a new home for Jonah’s wall sculpture Y Bont at Coleg Harlech. Golwg quoted a spokesman for Bangor University expressing interest in the piece. “Discussions are continuing with the family about offering a new home for the sculpture and hopefully the new Pontio [arts centre] building will be very suitable.” Scene & Word looks forward to further discussions with the university about this initiative.

Jonah Jones biography published by Seren Books

(December 2011)

The biography Jonah Jones: an Artist’s Life by Peter Jones has been published by Seren Books. It can be ordered on  http://www.serenbooks.com/book/jonah-jones-an-artists-life/9781854115560

Jonah Jones exhibition scheduled by National Museum of Wales

November 2011

The dates for a new exhibition, ‘Jonah Jones: The Word/Y Gair’, have been confirmed by the National Museum of Wales/Amgueddfa Cymru. The event will take place in Gallery 13 at the NMW between 8 December 2012 and 7 April 2013. The exhibition will be based around Jonah’s devotion to The Word in all its forms, a central and constant theme in his work. Six distinct sections in the show will examine different aspects of Jonah’s exploration of The Word. Scene & Word Ltd is grateful to Oliver Fairclough, Keeper of Art at the NMW, for his work in realising the exhibition.

Gregynog fellow Jonah Jones remembered in presentation set

November 2011

The following press release was issued by Gregynog Hall on 3 November 2011:

A collectors’ presentation set, including a new book based on the journals of late Welsh artist Jonah Jones during his year as Gregynog Arts Fellow, has been presented to Gregynog Hall, near Newtown, by his family.

The year, 1981–82, that Jonah spent at Gregynog Hall, the historic conference and event venue at Tregynon, is described by his children as hugely important in his life, allowing him to reconnect with all the things he loved most.

The presentation set — An Artist’s Life in Wales — also includes three limited edition prints off watercolours by Jonah, his walking guide, The Lakes of North Wales, and a CD-Rom of photographs of his works in all media, interviews with his friends and colleagues, and other features.

The book Jonah Jones: The Gregynog Journals, designed and co-produced by Gwasg Gregynog Press, gives revealing and personal insights into the artist’s working and private life, with colour reproductions of sketches.

A noted artist, writer and educationalist, Jonah (1919–2004) gained a reputation as a master craftsman in stone and as an artist devoted to the word in all its visual forms. He worked in many media, cutting letters in slate, carving in stone, creating bronze busts, making windows in stained and concrete glass, painting in watercolour and writing novels, essays and an acclaimed biography of Clough Williams-Ellis.

Rood cross moved from Llanelli to Tenby

November 2011

A wooden rood cross carved by Jonah in the 1980s has been given a new home at St Mary’s Church, Tenby. The Christus Rex figure had been in St Alban’s Church, Llanelli, which closed earlier this year.

The cross is now the focal point of the Garden of Tranquillity in the church grounds to the south-west side of St. Mary’s Church, and was dedicated in this new position by the Bishop of St. David’s on 16 July.

Tenby rood cross 'Christus Rex'

Christus Rex, wood, St Mary's Church, Tenby. Photograph: Andrew Davies

The Rev Andrew Davies, Rector of the Tenby Rectorial Benefice, told Scene & Word: “I knew of the cross because I was a Curate at St. Alban’s in the early 1980s. I was saddened to hear of the impending closure of St. Alban’s and was determined to find the Christus Rex an appropriate new home.”

Scene & Word greatly appreciates Rev Davies’s concern for Jonah’s rood cross and thanks him for securing a new home for it.

Scene & Word at UK Fine Press Book Fair 2011

November 2011

Scene & Word exhibited the collectors’ set ‘An Artist’s Life in Wales’ at the 2011 UK Fine Press Book Fair at Oxford Brookes University on 5–6 November 2011.

Photographs: D T Jones.

Article on ‘The Gregynog Journals’ in ‘Parenthesis’

June 2011

An article by Jonah Jones’s son David Townsend Jones, who edited and produced Scene & Word’s first book, The Gregynog Journals, has been published in Parenthesis No. 20 (Spring 2011), the journal of the Fine Press Book Association. The article was commissioned by Sebastian Carter, UK editor and designer of the Anglo-American publication, which has a print run of 900 copies, of which 90 copies are a deluxe edition.

Click here for the full article.

Home needed for threatened wall sculpture by Jonah Jones

October 2010

The future of the wall sculpture Avo Penn Bid Pont (which is more familiarly known as Y Bont), currently in the students’ refectory at Coleg Harlech, continues to cause concern due to the imminent demolition of the building in 2012. While there have been expressions of interest in relocating the sculpture to another public building in Wales, so far these have only been tentative. Meanwhile the deadline is running down.

It is the wish of Coleg Harlech, the owners of the work, for the sculpture to remain in Wales and be securely displayed indoors in a public building. Given the scale of Y Bont, this will not be easy to accomplish. What may be required is a large-scale new-build or refurbishment with a substantial public open area, where the sculpture would provide a visual focus and centrepiece.

The availability of the sculpture provides a major opportunity for the right scheme, and if such a scheme exists, Scene & Word would be delighted to act as marriage brokers! It is essential above all else that this major work should not be lost to Wales.

For further information see the ‘Hidden Histories’ story published in this website’s news section on 17 November 2009.

Reopening of Mold Law Courts

April 2010

Jonah’s wall sculptures Justice and Mercy are at the centre of a complete refurbishment recently completed at Mold Law Courts, Flintshire. As part of the project the sculptures were repaired and the walls returned to their original duck egg blue colour as seen in slides taken by Jonah immediately after the works were erected.

Mercy, Mold Law Courts

Mercy, slate and marble, Mold Law Courts, 1968–69. Photograph: Beccy Lane

Made in 1968–69, Justice and Mercy represented a major change of direction in Jonah’s public work to more abstract forms, though retaining clear symbolism. Together they made up his first wall sculpture. Her Majesty’s Courts Service is to be congratulated for showing such respect and appreciation for this extremely important piece of work by Jonah and ensuring its preservation.

Justice, Mold Law Courts

Justice, slate and marble, Mold Law Courts, 1968–69. Photograph: Beccy Lane

The principle contractor for the work was R.L. Davies while the project was managed by White Young Green of Cardiff on behalf of HMCS. The Mold Law Courts will be officially reopened on 7 May 2010.

Thanks to Paul Taylor of White Young Green for information on the refurbishment.

Uncovering “unknown” works by Jonah Jones

April 2010

Because Jonah did not keep a full log of all his artwork as he carried it out, many of his creations have slipped into relative obscurity and in effect await rediscovery. Tracing pieces by Jonah can be like detective work, drawing on references in letters or journals, fuzzy photographs and press cuttings, memories of relations or friends, and internet items.

Wooden rood cross, All Saints Church, Llanelli, 1979. Photograph: Robert Greetham

Two examples of this have recently brought public commissions carried out by Jonah in West Wales to the attention of Scene & Word Ltd. We were aware of the fine wooden rood cross of Christus Rex at the Church of All Saints in Llanelli (Church in Wales), but its story was surrounded by a degree of mystery. After some investigation we found that it had originally been carved in 1979 for the Church of St Seiriol in Holyhead, having been commissioned by a family to commemorate the untimely death of a son. When the family moved to Llanelli in the early 1980s they brought the cross with them and had it installed at All Saints. (St Seirol’s closed in 1989 and was demolished three years later.) Besides this, Jonah’s journal for 1983 mentioned in passing carving a rood cross for Llanelli. Canon D.T. Davies of St Albans Church admired the first rood cross so much that he commissioned another, which still hangs in St Albans. Our thanks go to the Rev Ian Thomas, formerly rector of All Saints, and Mrs Elizabeth Davies, parishioner at St Albans, for helping us trace the history of these fine crosses.

Jonah also recorded in his journal carrying out the Spolasco carvings for the Swansea Maritime Quarter in spring 1989, together with Meic Watts, who was then learning his trade with Jonah (Meic is now well established as a fine carver and sculptor himself). The carvings, which adorn either side of Patagonia Walk off Trawler Road, recall the Italian quack doctor “Baron” Spolasco, who became a renowned character in the South Wales of the 1830s.

‘Hidden Histories’ and ‘Y Bont’

17 November 2009

Episode 3 in the ‘Hidden Histories’ series for BBC Cymru Wales, produced by Element Productions in association with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, will be shown on Tuesday 17 November 2009 at 7.30 pm on BBC Two Wales. It will include a feature on the wall sculpture Avo Penn Bid Pont (more familiarly known as Y Bont) by Jonah Jones (1969–70), in the students’ refectory at Coleg Harlech, whose future is threatened by the proposed demolition of the students’ block in 2012.