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Artist stays and big show goes ahead

Months ago artist Jonah Jones thought he was moving away from the Island and planned to make his last exhibit in Bermuda bigger and better than ever.

Plans changed since then and he and wife, Jo Stanton, decided to stay put. But Mr Jones stuck to his guns and created an impressive 80 to 85 piece collection of work.

Entitled ‘Per Mare, Per Terram’ — after the Royal Marine’s motto ‘by sea, by land’ — the exhibit will launch at City Hall on Friday.

The 45-year-old former chef, who followed his passion to become a full-time artist in 1999, said he was thrilled to debut his latest pieces, which include scenes from the backroads of Somerset and around the waters of Mangrove Bay.

“I am excited for people to see what I’ve been doing. It’s exciting because it’s a big show, so it’s a large body of work to be seen all at once.”

For the past nine months, Mr Jones has been peddling his bright red bicycle around the west end looking for inspiration in the Island’s natural beauty.

These “information-gathering trips” serve as the basis for many of his smaller paintings. He then goes into the studio to work on his larger compositions, which can take up to 36 hours to perfect.

“For instance King’s Point in Mangrove Bay is like my version of Monet’s Haystacks,” he said. “I don’t want to compare myself to Monet, but I paint these scenes in so many different lights and angles.”

In order to properly house the large exhibit, Mr Jones has rented the entire space at the Bermuda Society of the Arts (BSoA) for the next two weeks.

“I wanted to give the paintings room to breathe because so often with these shows everything gets cramped together.

“So it’s a bit of a luxury on my part because you have to pay more rent to use the space, but at the time I thought it was going to be my last show on the Island and I wanted it to look good.

“I painted a lot of panoramics and those take up a lot of wall space as well.”

One panoramic piece, in particular, depicts a vibrant scene from the annual Non-Mariners Race — it measures 1ft by 10ft.

Mr Jones said using the unconventional canvas shape allowed him to create a passage in time “almost like a piece of music”.

It also demands more time from the audience as they have to look from left to right to uncover the whole story.

The painter was interested in art as a youngster, but didn’t consider it as a career until the early 1990s. Since studying at Bermuda College under Charles Zuill and Diana Amos, he has taken part in numerous solo and group shows.

For him, creating art is largely a peaceful activity, but it can also be “periodically frustrating”.

“I think it’s like any skill — the more you do, the better you get — but then you open other doors to other challenges you didn’t know existed; things like edging or harmony of a composition,” he said.

In addition to the time dedicated to actual painting, countless hours are spent preparing, brainstorming or doing administrative tasks. He joked that the pictures that don’t go right often “end up being used as frisbees”.

Unique to this show, Mr Jones is to screen a slideshow of photos of his work over the past ten years.

He hoped his works both past and present inspire some of the new faces in the arts community, but wasn’t sure how sales would fare in the difficult economic climate.

“We all need money to live, but it doesn’t motivate me. It’s more of a thrill in terms of sales because it means people have invested in what you have done because they love it.”

‘Per Mare, Per Terram’ opens 5.30pm Friday at the Bermuda Society of Arts. The show runs until April 27.

Useful website: www.jonah-art.com.

Artist Jonah Jones, pictured here surrounded by some of his latest paintings and terrier Ollie, will be opening his largest show to date at Bermuda Society of Arts in City Hall on Friday.

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Published April 11, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated April 11, 2012 at 9:33 am)

Artist stays and big show goes ahead

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