20 March 2017

A Note on R E - T O U R / R E - T R A C E

The film has been made as part of my contribution to the Re-take/Re-invent project. For this, I was looking at the work of Thomas Jones (1742 - 1803) and in particular, the series of small paintings he made whilst living in Naples. In December 2015, during the project time, I was able to visit Naples with International Contemporary Art Wales as part of a group exhibition in CAM Casoria Contemporary Art Museum. Whilst there, I visited the city centre, actually for one morning just before leaving, to research for the project and was able to walk across the city and visit the area around the Castel Nuovo, that features in the particular painting by Jones that I was working from. In Naples, I was struck by how familiar the city was through the eyes of Jones because of the light on walls and the washing that was hanging in the December sun to catch the warmth and how this is very much still the current character of the city as it was in Jones’ time. I live partly in London, where my family are based and was very interested to read that Lawrence Gowing (1) had a studio with others in Maple Street whilst teaching at the Slade and he thought it was the house that Jones used to live in with his family, when he lived in London. The street then, in Jones’ time, was called London Street, being renamed later in line with the furniture business on Tottenham Court Road. Part of it, directly next to the base of the BT tower does have a terrace that dates from Jones’ time. In reflecting on Jones over many years particularly since the 2002 National Gallery exhibition of his work (really a walk from Maple Street) right through to this project, my investigation required creative output and film seemed a possibility. Chance, time and place all play a part here under the construct of a project of reinterpretation. Connections and differences between two cities drawn together perhaps by noticing the transitory and temporary features of metropolitan life.  

(1.) Gowing, Lawrence. The Originality of Thomas Jones. 1985 Thames and Hudson


  1. I thought the film was a good focussed take on the bustle and somewhat insignificance of much that goes on in the life of the metropolis. The camera lens brings out the interest of colour, form and line that is to be seen in the suburbs as well as in the city centres away from any listed tourist interest. Also comparisons can be seen with the everyday washing hanging on balconies in Naples with the plastic covers over a building in London. Composed via the camera lens, and processed in the eye by the viewer as a static composition. Everything can be seen as relating to a visual art experience. One being the chores of life, but seen as an aesthetic view, the other being about renewal and investment. Both being essential for the dynamics of existing in a metropolis.
    I think RE take - RE invent with its underlying meaning of ‘recapture’ is reflected well in the film, and if one keeps the concept to the fore then the interaction between the two metropolises begins to interest and excite the viewer as they put the idea into practice for themselves.
    Without thought in the environments shown in the film they are meaningless; with thought and playing with selection the tour through the environments become fascinating and enlightening to one’s sensibilities.

    John Brown Artist/Director ICAW Documented Art Space Ltd
    Instigator Real Time: Art From Wales CAM Casoria Contemporay Art Museum, Naples