About John Jones
Born in 1926, John Jones studied at the West of England College of Art in Bristol, his time there being split in two by his army service in Europe and the Middle East. He was awarded the National Diploma in Design (NDD) in 1951 and the Art Teachers’ Diploma (ATD) in the following year. He then progressed to the Slade School of Fine Art in London for his postgraduate studies, where he specialised in painting, drawing and etching. He was an outstanding student at the Slade. As well as distinguishing himself by the quality of his artistic work, he also excelled in the academic components of the diploma course. He graduated in 1954 and was awarded the History of Art Prize. By this time, John was already exhibiting his paintings widely.
After a short period spent teaching in a school for maladjusted boys, John spent the three years from 1956 to 1959 in Argentina. During this time, he married Gabrielle (Gaby), held several one-man shows of his paintings and jewellery, designed furniture, lectured on art history and ran art classes. On his return to the United Kingdom, John was appointed Lecturer at the newly-established James Graham College in Leeds, where, within the space of two years, he was promoted successively to be senior lecturer and head of department. His teaching was characterised by the Principal as lively and stimulating – adjectives which were to recur frequently in the years that followed.
In 1963, John took up appointment as Lecturer in the Department of Fine Art at Leeds. He immediately made his mark as a teacher of outstanding talent. As the lecturer in overall charge of studio instruction, and also taking a prominent part in other components of the course, his contribution was central to the very high standard achieved by the students, with whom he enjoyed an excellent rapport. John Jones did much to nurture and enhance the Leeds course which, uniquely, enabled art students not only to pursue a studio apprenticeship but also to become thoroughly versed in art history. Reflecting a lifelong passion, John was also responsible for devising a highly respected and influential course on the art of the film, combining both practical and critical elements. John himself was a gifted film-maker, who over the years produced and directed a variety of teaching and documentary films on aspects of art history and education. These included films for the Arts Council (Matisse – A Sort of Paradise), the Regional Arts Association (Kate Barnard) and the Arts Foundation (Drawing with the Figure). In response to the limited amount of material for film and photography studies available within the department, John built up an impressive private collection of books, photographs and apparatus. He also devoted much time, care and thought to the validation, examination and moderation of teacher training college awards in art. Despite his formidable workload, he still made time to pursue his own painting and continued to exhibit. He was an academician of the Royal West of England Academy, and a highly respected portrait painter and muralist. An enduring fascination with camera images led him to write a history of the stereoscope, to devise and present the television series The Magic Lantern Show,and to help found the international Magic Lantern Society, of which he was to serve for a time as president.
Much in demand as a speaker both in this country and abroad, the basis of many of John’s lectures was provided by the priceless archive of films and tape-recordings of American artists of the 1960s which he compiled on the back of a fellowship awarded to him by the American Council of Learned Societies in 1965-66. His services were also widely sought after by other organisations and institutions. He was a member of the UNESCO Culture Advisory Committee, and the British representative at the Annual Conference of UNESCO’s International Artists Association in 1979, Art Moderator of the School Examinations Board for London University, President of the Leeds Fine Art Club, Chairman of the Yorkshire Arts Association Art Panel and Regional Organiser of the Open College of the Arts.
John Jones retired from his post in 1991. He was then reappointed on a part-time basis for two years to continue to teach his popular and admired course on art and communications in the Institute of Communications Studies.
John Jones once wrote that the demonstration and affirmation of the sanity of the arts was one of the major contributions a University could make. His own rich and extensive contributions to art, teaching and scholarship, allied to his generous temperament, amply served this end. As a colleague put it when John retired, his unique combination of talent, liberal sympathy and warmth of heart had an inspirational effect on generations of young artists.
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