It is not quiet in Locust Jones’s studio. Rolling news coverage reverberates from every device. As he absorbs this torrent of information, Jones constantly draws, paints and sculpts. The result is work that is viscerally compulsive, like a pictorial form of automatic writing reflecting the rapid-fire immediacy of unrelenting news coverage.
The destruction of Aleppo, the US election and continuing refugee crises are events heavily referenced in Jones’s expressive imagery. Twisted bodies and desperate faces seem to merge with the deep, robust colours of complex urban landscapes. The inclusion of text lifted from headlines heavily anchors the work in reality and, in a fitting description, Jones likens his work to a “warped diary”, a way to express the anxiety many of us feel when faced with current world events.
Tactile ceramic sculptures of skulls and body parts add an acutely physical aspect to the exhibition. “The machete and axe-wielding marks, the gritty black texture of the clay and the primitive forms are ruminations of things in my immediate environment,” Jones explains. “The burnt figures are heaved out of the earth, evoking imagery of mass graves, holocausts and burial sites, connecting contemporary events with ancient histories.”
One of the most striking pieces is a huge scroll hanging from the ceiling. It spreads across the floor like a vertical panorama and displays a narrative Jones constructed over time. Like a contemporary scribe, Jones records his response to history as it unfolds before him. “All the factors making news are fodder for my drawings and paintings. Thinking about what is going on in the world is my way of making sense of it all.”