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David Jones: Vision and Memory

[ Exhibition )

Watercolour painting by David Jones. An abstract still life of his artist's worktable in front of a window with a vase of flowers.

David Jones, The Artist’s Worktable, 1929, watercolour and pencil, 62.3 x 50.2cm, Private Collection © Trustees of the David Jones Estate

This major exhibition took place during the centenary of the First World War, displaying over 80 pieces from throughout David Jones's life and imaginative body of work.

Jones (1895-1974) was a painter, engraver, poet, and maker of inscriptions, described by Kenneth Clark as the greatest British watercolourist of the 20th century.

The exhibits ranged from sketches made on the Western Front to watercolours of trees, flowers and thorns, to drawings of Arthurian subjects and painted inscriptions. In the 1920s, working in the circle of Eric Gill, Jones became an engraver of the first rank.

His illustrated books engage with the world of symbol and myth, shown alongside his shimmering watercolours of still-life-scenes, seascapes and portraits. In later years, as David Jones devoted more time to poetry, he painted inscriptions that are as vital in design as they are allusive in content.

The exhibition was organised with the support of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, and featured works drawn from both private and public lenders including Kettle’s Yard, Tate and the V&A. The exhibition toured to the Djanogly Art Gallery from 12 March – 5 June 2016. A concurrent exhibition – ‘The Animals of David Jones’ – ran at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft from 24 October – 6 March 2016.


Watch our series of short films exploring the work of David Jones

Co-curators Ariane Bankes and Paul Hill give an overview of the exhibition and explore five key paintings. Click the image above to watch, or visit our YouTube channel.

Watch the full playlist on YouTube

The Art of David Jones: Vision and Memory

Available from Pallant Bookshop, this beautifully illustrated catalogue explores the life and art of David Jones. It challenges the simplistic view of Jones as an outsider or an eccentric, exploring his work instead in relation to the wider cultural and intellectual climate of his times.

Order today

What the press said

{A} lovely and endearing new exhibition….its wholly thoughtful account of Jones’s life and work are blissfully free of art guff. The…show groans with treasure, and from every part of Jones’s life.

Rachel Cooke, The Observer and Guardian online

The compilation in Chichester is both highly sensitive and major… and gives the visitor a sense of rediscovery and well as discovery.

Marina Vaizey, The Burlington Magazine

This exhibition…offers an exhaustive overview of Jones’s oeuvre, every bit as thorough as any Tate retrospective. Jones was never a household name, now less than ever, but in his lifetime he was much revered… These delightful exhibitions remind us why. *****

Anna McNay, Mail on Sunday

Want to know more?

If you’re conducting research into this artist or another aspect of Modern British art and would like to use our library and archive, please contact Sarah Norris, Collections Manager on

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