Jones, Barbara

(1912 – 1978)

Mural design for the Royal Post Office, circa 1961

SKU: 7252

Collage and crayon

Size:
Height: 25cm
Width: 300cm

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
The Artist’s studio

Literature: Llewellyn, Sacha, et al. Women Only Works on Paper. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p. 82.

Barbara Jones particularly loved watercolour for its translucence and brilliance and its emotive evo-
cation of place, qualities which are evident in Marconi Transmitting the First Radio Signals from Cornwall

to Newfoundland, 1901(overleaf), one of 12 watercolours commissioned in 1950 by the Financial Times
for a calendar titled A Half Century of Progress’. By the time she received this commission, Jones’
reputation was already secure, having been one of the most admired – and certainly most prolific – of the
contributors to the Recording Britain project, a collection of more than 1500 watercolours and drawings
commissioned from artists to record British lives and landscapes during the Second World War.

In her book, Water-Colour Painting, A Practical Guide (1960), Jones was as much concerned with engaging
the reader’s delight with the medium as with giving instruction in technique: One day when you come
in … you will pour out a drink, light a cigarette, and sink into a chair, having painted a picture. Nothing
in the world is like this sensation, peace and elation, God on the seventh day’.

The idea of commissioning Jones to do a mural for the Mount Pleasant sorting office in 1961 was probably
inspired by the American Public Works Art Project which resulted in more than 1,200 murals being
painted in post offices throughout the United States. This 3-metre long maquette is the largest record
of the proposed mural – it is unclear whether this commission was ever realised.

The use of collage as a fine rather than a decorative art was one of the most significant innovations
of the twentieth century, and is most associated with Picasso and Braque. The medium would have
especially appealed to Jones, however, for its association with folk art. Through books such as The
Unsophisticated Arts’ (1951), she sought to blur the traditional boundaries between art, design and
craft.

This is a detail of the picture. The entire picture is 300 cms long.


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THE ARTIST

Jones, Barbara

1912 – 1978

Barbara Jones first attended art school in Croydon (1931’33) before
winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Art (1933’36), where
she met painter Cliff Barry whom she married in 1941.

A prolific and varied artist, during WWII she worked with
the Pilgrim Trust on the Recording Britain series, making one of
the largest contributions of the 63 artists taking part. She wrote
and illustrated books on design history, many of which are today
considered seminal, including The Unsophisticated Arts, 1951 and
Design for Death, 1967.

In 1951, she organised the Black Eyes and Lemonade: Curating
Popular Art
exhibition held at the Whitechapel Gallery for the Festival
of Britain. A fellow of the Society of Industrial Artists from the same
year, she was made vice president in 1969. She was also a fellow of
the Royal Anthropological Institute and a member of the Society of
Authors. A retrospective exhibition of the contents of her studio was
held at Katharine House Gallery, Marlborough, in 1999.

With thanks to artbiogs.co.uk

MORE PICTURES BY ARTIST

Barbara Jones
Study for Man at Work – a century of technical and social progress, 1961
£2,800.00