Jack Jones (1922 - 1993) was born in the Hafod, Swansea and was raised during the Depression by his grandmother in a small terraced house typical of the area. After the war he went University and held a post as Head of English at Barnes Grammar School until 1972 when he became a full-time artist.
"I was born in the Hafod on April 11, 1922, in Aberdyberthi Street in the front bedroom. Life for me was a delight and a source of joy and wonder, a one-off opera which was free for the enjoying. Front doors were always open. No one ever stole from a neighbour, indeed there was little to steal for seven out of ten men were unemployed, had been for years and there was little hope for the future. At the top of my street was a notorious black slag heap 100 feet high. The slag heap was our world, our playground. Yet in spite of the poverty and the ill health there was a bubbling effervescence in the Hafod people that transformed them from victims into victors."
"I began painting in 1953 soon after returning from the University of Paris. I was not aware of the existence of Lowry and had developed the content and style before I saw any of his pictures. I feel his paintings are sadder than my own."
He returned to the UK to teach in 1951. From 1956 to 1972 he was also a script-writer for BBC radio, preparing some 200 broadcasts. Eventually he gave up his post as Head of English at Barnes Grammar School in 1976 to become a full-time painter, his early memories of the Hafod remaining central to his work.
Alcoholism intervened which saw him a homeless alcoholic and this was followed by serious illness. For the last ten years of his life he recovered from his alcoholism and was able to return to his painting.
He has had successful exhibitions both in London and Swansea and his work was collected by many including Sir Anthony Hopkins and Hywel Bennett. He was represented by Attic Gallery from the late 1960s until his death in 1993.
In his funeral oration for Jack Jones, Donald Anderson MP said "The essence of his message is community, the figures in his urban landscape of terraced houses, the pub, the brooding hill and the chapel are not atomised individuals, alienated, isolated, but warm, cosy, holding hands - a real community".
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