Ossie Jones - Journeyman Artist
I’m a journeyman artist and illustrator and I work in different styles. This covers graphic art, working with perspective in the old fashioned way of doing this - entirely by hand-eye co-ordination. I advertise in specialist aircraft and shipping magazines, painting to order.
My father - who worked on the railways - was mad keen on drawing, he drew aircraft. I just sort of picked it up when I was at school; I had an excellent art teacher. I actually started studying architecture, but I packed this course in. The nice thing about architecture is that they teach you that you can design anything; it gives you a great confidence.
I worked at various jobs. Until 1997 I had worked for thirty years in the print industry doing anything - origination, the boards, camera work, proofing. The company went bust. I was so annoyed with the attitude of the receivers that I vowed never to work for anyone else ever again. My children were grown up so it was a case of why not?
I’ve got a mind like a sponge. It will soak up things and then - even years afterwards - I’ll think ‘I know where I’ve seen that.’ My wife Beryl says I should sleep in the library, because there are so many books there.
One of the styles I use is that of Turner. It’s a hundred and fifty years since Turner died and his work is still controversial today. Turner was heavily criticised at the time of his work for the way that he shifted the paint around on his canvas. I taught some architectural students and showed them the technique of Turner and they went ‘Wow!’ I always get the same question: “Why do you put down blues and yellows first?” Because that’s the way that he did it. You will have a different view of Turner if you do this yourself.
Art has been a very practical outlet as well. It doesn’t matter whether it is a piece of lettering or a cartoon. My art has always been an extrovert activity, and the first requirement of an artist is having the nerve to put a mark down on paper and believe that it will mean something to somebody else.
I’ve used my art to raise school funds and for local campaigns, such as to save a bridge which gives access over a Merseyrail line down to the prom. Then there was the Garden Festival site. It was a wonderful idea to have gardens there. It was just a shame that nobody realised what a great asset they actually had. Nobody had the imagination to develop it further. If you walk down there now you will be as disappointed as I am.
The latest campaign I’m involved with is to save the Florrie in the Dingle. I like the concept of this. The fact that a man built it as a memorial to his daughter who died of illness in Paris. He did this in a very practical way by opening a club. Though I can’t figure out why he started a boys club if it was for his daughter. I don’t know if that was because - if you looked at the river of that time (1889) - you had three ships anchored: the Conway that trained officers, the Worcester for training other ranks and the Akbar - which was basically a reform ship, a floating borstal. There were complaints - just like today - of anti-social behaviour. When we put out questionnaires into the community about what people wanted to see done with the Florrie, we were given sixty-four other possible uses for the building apart from the ones we had thought of ourselves. The community has to be involved in saving this building and in deciding what to do with it. There’s no point saving it if they’re not.
I don’t think Liverpool should’ve got the Capital of Culture; Newcastle-Gateshead should’ve got it, because some of their projects have actually caught the imagination. Since the Capital of Culture bid went through, the thoughts and ideas of how to present it have been very poor and unimaginative. If you’re going to do something you should do it with style. I’ve got doubts about the professionals who are running the Capital of Culture. For instance, the College of Art here in Liverpool had an incredible reputation at one time, it had a world standing. Where’s that gone? We should put Liverpool on the map again in 2008 by training to build skills and encourage the growth of art. We need some real vision in this city. More artists should be involved because - as artists will tell you - there is more than one answer to a problem.Printer friendly page