Two important works by Shropshire-based artist Oliver Jones are being shown at Pershore Abbey for a limited period. (until 30th March 2022) The two works, Divine and #motherandchild, have been selected as they present similarities with certain forms of religious art. They do not make any comments on belief or faith yet appear ‘at home’ in the context of the awe-inspiring architecture of Pershore Abbey. #motherandchild depicts a woman tenderly holding her baby; the scene is lit by the screen of the mobile phone she is holding. Here Jones uses the historical technique of the ‘chiaroscuro’, whereby the artist uses strong contrasts of darkness and light. Immediately reminiscent of the religious figure of the Madonna and child, the shape of the piece, featuring a pointed arch, reinforces the religious format, but also encourages the viewer to further explore the beautiful gothic architecture of the Abbey.
The monumental triptych Divine (commissioned by The New Art Gallery Walsall in 2016) is reminiscent of a religious painting or altar piece. It dominates the whole South Wall of the Abbey. The central figures further reference the Ancient Greek sculpture, the Laocoön group, depicting the Trojan priest and his sons struggling with two snakes, traditionally regarded as an icon of human suffering. With Divine, Jones refers to the increasing trend for tattoo and extreme body modification procedures. This quest for individuality at any price, marks a reaction to escalating standardisation.
Priest-in-charge The Revd Claire Lording said: “For centuries the Abbey has been a place where stories of humanity have been shared and told…The subject matter of Oliver's work is particularly significant for us, not only in its use of traditional religious composition, which resonates with a place of worship, but the actual images captured. The use of modern models and images enables the important topic of body image and how we relate to others, to be accessible and relevant to those who will view the art, especially younger people.” Oliver Jones is an award winning visual artist who works in pastel chalk, a medium commonly associated with intimate portraiture and gentle landscapes, rather than large format works.
Oliver Jones at Pershore Abbey 20 February – 30 March 2022 Pershore Abbey, Church Walk, Pershore, Worcestershire WR10 1BL Free. No booking required. www.meadowarts.org/exhibitions/oliver-jones-pershore-abbey