Steffan Jones Hughes

July 2015

I first noticed the painting as I was walking through the galleries at the beginning of this project. I hadn't noticed it before as it is hung quite high on the wall. I was attracted to it as I have many times made work relating to the idea of "tether". In the work an innocent looking girl has a bird tethered by a long red ribbon, giving the sense that, although it can fly, it doesn't have freedom; a concept she appears unaware of. 

I was interested by the fact that this was a companion painting to a portrait of the girl's brother, which, I was informed via the label, is in a collection in Boston. 

My eldest daughter was on an exchange with Mass Art in Boston and so this felt like a connection, a ribbon connecting us across the Atlantic, so I decided to do some research into the other painting. After contacting the gallery in Boston I was informed that it was not, and had never been, in their collection. 

This led to me discovering that in the 50s the work had been seen in an exhibition. The image which says it is the companion piece, does not match the description I had and so I wrote back to be informed that it has not been seen since the exhibition. My trail had gone cold. I began to imagine the partner piece and this is an option that I might explore at a later stage. The subjects of the work were Venetians, and while in Boston my daughter was successful in gaining a place on the invigilator plus programme at Wales in Venice, and so the journey to find out more about the subject may not yet be complete.

I began to deconstruct the work, to look at the compositional devices and elements which I found interesting. The main thing I found fascinating was the ribbon, how it dissects the work and how, being scarlet, it leads your eye through, what is both a very simple work and also a complex piece of theatre. I like the way the painting has a certain kind of space in it, like characters on a stage, framed by the trees on either side.

I then continued to relate the subject matter and develop it so that it reflected my own work and style.

I was interested in developing this concept of one character being controlled by another, innocent appearing, character. I'm interested in how relationships can be explored in my work and how things can be viewed at face value, but can also have other undercurrents. I became interested in the other elements of the work; The small "toy" pet. A small dog, a companion, but again, a creature that relies on the subject of the work, the girl, for its existence. In the background there is a horse and one, or possibly two, people near a triumphant arch. There's another bird, a partner, free in the branches of a tree and perhaps most interesting of all a small shipwreck by the edge of a pool. These elements fascinated me.


And so, I began work, taking these elements and exploring them through drawing, and a series of small paintings.

I then left the work for a month or so, before an opportunity arose to spend time focused on my work at Clive Hicks-Jenkins' cottage in Aberporth. Over the space of a week I made a small series of paintings, without direct reference to the work, that felt as though I was really taking something of the original work and translating it into my own.

I feel as though the work is only just beginning and I plan to develop it further. I've experimented with an idea for animation and feel as though the work would 


Posted on January 6, 2015

My drawings began quite tentatively. I love the weird dog in the bottom left, almost looks like a teddy, that might lead me somewhere…

You can see that I started to get interested here in the theatrical framing of the figure. I love the tree on the right, reminds me of one that I’ve seen before in Ken Kiff’s paintings. The confidence of looking at the subject matter, rather than the source material, and just drawing is beginning to happen here……


Posted on January 6, 2015 by steffanjoneshughes

I did a quick drawing of a pattern I found on the dress. I really liked it, so I began to think about how it would look in repeat. Like most things for me, I like to really explore ideas that might at first seem completely unrelated to my final pieces, and I don’t usually work from another artwork in this way, so it’s been a really important process for me to keep returning to the original piece in order that I feel I’m really looking and really aware of what is going on. Interestingly, in the gallery in Cardiff, it is really quite hard to see any of the detail, the work is hung high on a wall and has a significant amount of reflection, there is also a wall that prevents you from viewing the work from further away.

I like the way the trees frame the work, something I’ll return to later……….

Francesco Guardi A Young Girl of the Gradenigo Family with a Dove c.1768–1770

Oil on canvas, 149.5 x 98.7 cm

Collection: Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

I like the fact that it connects with my own work. But I was also fascinated by the fact that the two paintings, this one and its partner, a boy portrait, are separated. One in Wales, one in Massachusetts, where my daughter was living at the time, and both painted in Venice, where she will be next year.

29 11 14

I had a good visit to the museum on Thursday and it was really useful. I had a bit of time between things and so I just wandered the galleries hunting for inspiration

I'll blog something soon... I'm not really sure how it will develop.

No comments:

Post a Comment