Liverpool Biennial 2010: John Lewis department store gets involved!
Jason Jones, manager of Liverpool Hope University's prestigious Cornerstone
Art Gallery, is the first artist ever to take the Independents Biennial
into a major national department store in Liverpool One - John Lewis.
Gayna Rose Madder asks him some questions about how all of this happened.
Let's start from the beginning: briefly, how
did all this start?
I found myself in a lucky situation, starting work in Liverpool Hope University’s
Fine Art & Design department in 1999. I have since learned to go with
it if I have an idea; I may not always get it right.
How did you choose the unusual direction of
the work you are exhibiting in the Biennial?
The 2010 (Independents) Liverpool Biennial coincided with the end of my
MA. Exhibiting within the Biennial would maximise exposure of my work
where the directive was to investigate new avenues.
The size and technique of the work produced developed from restrictions
like having to double up my work office as my studio! A previous body
of work took five years to produce and that was large scale. I needed
to develop smaller work on whatever media was required. If I had been
using a large studio the work would have been very different.
How did the current exhibition come about,
and why did you choose that space in particular?
In 2009 I started of a collection of doll's house furniture which proved
a starting point for investigation. From the start I knew I didn’t
want to exhibit any images produced in a gallery. The work felt personal
in a way I had not encountered before, so I did not want the gallery system
stamping its intellectual mark of approval on it. I wanted to tackle the
traditional method of presenting work and so question what an image presents,
both from a theoretical and emotive point of view.
I presented John Lewis with a proposal to exhibit in their second floor
furniture department. After several months of discussion, they officially
agreed. Since, the project has been supported so energetically and confidently
that I feel very privileged.
Focusing on previous research, I discovered an obvious link between the
objects I had been using and the classical section of their furniture
What inspires you? Has the city of Liverpool
ever been a focus for your work?
All my work to date has been a natural progression, for example from abstract
works to figurative, the method of applying paint, or the narrative or
I am an artist from Liverpool, but, the city already has a strong voice
from a wide variety of disciplines, so the themes and narratives I tackle
are from a local perspective but universal within the westernized world.
What, if any, are your influences? How would
you say the style of your work is best described?
My brain is a sponge for every stimulus there is. Though I don’t
have a retentive memory, I seem to soak up visual imagery. What is an
artist but not a product of his environment, and theoretical investigation?
Though my work evolves, drawing and photography have always fed into my
practice. But I believe it is the critic, the institution and the viewer
who is best to describe the artist and his work.
Is there any one thing in this exhibition
that you would like visitors to look out for or notice?
I love that the work is exhibited in John Lewis’s photographic household
picture frames. As I manage a gallery space and daily discuss its political
pros and cons, this has given me a new and very different challenge.
In deciding where to exhibit the work there was a 'eureka' moment when
the idea dawned on me. I had struggled with this issue, and was photographing
doll house furniture when I realised the answer was always right in front
of me: place the question on the objects! I just had to get someone to
allow me to do it. The rest is history.
John Lewis department Store, Liverpool One.
Second Floor, Furniture Department.
Exhibition open from Wednesday 22nd September 2010, during normal shop