Tributes pour in for Welsh artist Mike Jones, who passed away aged 80
Tributes have poured in for the Welsh artist Mike Jones, who passed away at the age of 80.
Born in 1941, he took inspiration from the post war Welsh culture of the mining community in which he grew up.
His work was rooted in the social and working life of the people of the valley and the tough conditions in which they lived.
The artist gained a reputation for his evocative portrayals Wales’ people and the Welsh landscape and he has exhibited across the country.
He has held a number of shows and exhibits at The Albany Gallery, Cardiff as well as at The Attic Gallery, Swansea.
He has also contributed to several television presentations on the visual arts in Wales. His work is held in many private collections and in The National Library of Wales.
Tŷ’r Gwrhyd, the Welsh Centre in Pontardawe, said: “It is with sadness that we heard of the death of one of the artistic talents of Pontardawe and Wales, the artist Mike Jones.
“It was a huge honour for Tŷ’r Gwrhyd to be the home of Mike’s last exhibition on the occasion of his 80th birthday in October last year.
“It was wonderful to see the reaction of local people and people from far away, of every age and background, to his work portraying the vale’s characters from his childhood. He leaves a big creative legacy to the nation. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Eryl, and the family, for their loss.”
Sioned Williams, Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd for South Wales West, also paid tributes to the artist from Pontardawe.
“Mike was renowned for his portrayals of the industrial communities of south Wales, particularly in the Swansea valley of his birth,” she said.
“Mike was brought up in Cilmaengwyn and Godre’r Graig, near Ystalyfera, when heavy industry in the area was at its height. His father was a miner, and his parents were also publicans, and this provided the ideal venue to observe the local characters. And Mike was one of the many talented creatives inspired by the Welsh-speaking industrial communities of the Swansea valley.
“He is recognised as one of the foremost artists who portrayed these communities. His work has been exhibited in galleries across Wales and beyond, including the royal academy in London, as well as galleries in New York and New Zealand. Mike Jones’s work portrays the lives of the characters in his square mile—miners, tin and steel workers, farmers and housewives, as well as the villages of terraced houses where they lived.
“Last year saw his eightieth birthday celebrations, and a number of successful exhibitions were held across Wales. He was delighted that Tŷ’r Gwrhyd in Pontardawe and Cylch Darllen Cwm Tawe arranged a special exhibition of his work to celebrate his birthday in the autumn.
“I received the first of his works in the collection I now have as a wedding present, and after moving to the Swansea valley soon afterwards, I was privileged to get to know Mike Jones and to visit his extraordinary studio in his home in Pontardawe. He was also a generous supporter of local causes, contributing valuable paintings to help raise money for local Welsh-medium schools, eisteddfods and Plaid Cymru.
“We send our condolences to his wife, Eryl, and family for their loss. The Swansea valley and the whole of Wales have lost a very special talent and a passionate Welshman.”
Lee Waters, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Climate Change, said: “Mike Jones is a modern Great Welsh artist. Really very sorry to hear of his death. His legacy is secure.”
Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, said: “Sad to hear of the loss of Mike Jones of Pontardawe, one of Wales’s most important painters and visual chronicler of our industrial history and our communities. Honoured to have his paintings on display at my office, which he kindly provided to my predecessor @GwendaThomas6.”
On his art Mike Jones has previously said: “In drawing and painting, I endeavour to give emotions, ideas and memories a permanent form. I find inspiration in simple subject matter, women scrubbing steps, figures sitting in waiting rooms, men and women, places and times of my childhood and imagination.
“Through my art I try to convey emotion and attitude which I hope will connect with the viewer. The essence of my work is the spontaneous and intuitive response to my subject matter.”
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Mike was not only a very talented artist but he was a lovely man, with a twinkle, who I am so honoured to have had as a friend.
People who know his work may be surprised to learn that I am the proud owner of a picture of a cat that he painted for me when ours passed away and I was sad.
He empathised with me and I think this side of him comes across in his work.
He will be sadly missed but not forgotten.
I am privileged to have a number of Mike’s drawings & paintings one of which he gave me for my wedding present. Mike had a very wicked personality & infectious humour. Nor only a great artist & proud Welsh man but was also the driving force in starting the Cwmtawe Rugby 7s tournament. We will all miss him greatly. Condolences to Eryl, David, Beth & Gareth and their families RIP Mike xx