- Oriel Wrecsam
I visited Steffan Jones – Hughes' exhibition again last week, this time back in the role of one of his students, and listened to Steffan speak about his work. The design of the exhibition has a formal graphic power and elegance. The spare, calm arrangement of images and objects evoke the fragility, vulnerability and randomness of existence – of art as a way of making sense out of the chaos of life.
Small found pieces of tiny bird skeletons and little mammals skulls are arranged in handmade paper display units, fitted inside boxes which are themselves recycled cardboard boxes. Eggshells, decorated with drawn and printed images of found, fallen birds are carefully presented as homemade versions of museum display cabinets. Domestic archaeology of garden found bottles and glass vials are newly labelled, each displayed as precious relics.
These small artifacts, and the images developed from contemplation of them by the artist, generate ideas about chance finds at home, random choices made about where we make a home and with whom. Steffan Jones-Hughes screenprints and etchings continue to call up dreamlike images of home and family, place and the structures within it. Characters re-appear and morph into different roles at different times, as we all do according to where we are, who we are with and what part we are playing at the time. Jones-Hughes explains: 'all my work is auto-biographical, but none of it is real'.
The formal display inside a presentation case of closed individually painted copies of the Guardian guide, next to a huge graphic array of copies of each of the individual images within, are like movie storyboards of tales and characters ready to take flight. The closed guides with their week by week advice of what to see and do, and news about other people's choices and stories, seem to be gagged and ready to burst out and assert the artists own story over that of everyone else's. In the midst of noisy random existence the individual is acknowledged, curated and documented.