Brockley-born Jones was aged just 14 when he first attended what was then Camberwell Art School. At 19, he volunteered to fight in the war, enlisting for service with the Royal Welch Fusiliers. Jones remained a private throughout the war, fighting for longer than any other British writer and his wartime experiences would have a profound effect on him both emotionally and artistically, shaping much of his output for the remainder of his life.
Prior to the publication of his epic war-poem ‘In Parenthesis’, Jones had been an artist working in many modes, making numerous paintings, drawings and book illustrations, with a particular use of mythical imagery. The effects of revisiting his wartime memories to complete the first draft of ‘In Parenthesis’ were immense, and he suffered the first of several psychological breakdowns that would punctuate his life. Publication was delayed until 1937, by which time war memoirs had become more commonplace. However, this supreme work was ecstatically received by critics and ‘In Parenthesis’ is now widely regarded as one of the greatest ever literary works about war.
‘A Mythic Understanding’ is the culmination of a teaching project at Camberwell College of Arts led by illustrator and lecturer, Geoff Coupland (aka Zeel) that unpicks Jones’s processes and use of myth in his work. The project offers a multi-faceted view of Jones and the experience of the Great War from a visual arts perspective and has four strands:
- an exhibition at Camberwell Space – including works by John Vernon Lord, Clive Hicks Jenkins, Charlotte Cory and Marguerite Carnec, with displays about Jones' life and work by design studio Work-Form
- displays by current students, staff and alumni
- a new publication featuring essays by Charlotte Cory and Pat Mills
- the remaking of lost war memorial to fallen staff and students at Camberwell College of Arts
‘A Mythic Understanding’ will provide a timely introduction to anyone new to Jones’s work, as well as new perspectives for those taking a fresh look at this highly original and much neglected modern voice.