If you grew up in Perth and spent early days ratting around the river and beaches, then the Tony Jones exhibition at Gallows Gallery will bring a knowing smile to the dial.
His latest show of sculptures and paintings, called ‘Tin Canoe’, currently filling the Mosman Park space, offers a delightful homage to surrounding Perth neighbourhoods, past and present.
While unmistakably local in content, the studio pieces have universal appeal, each telling a story through iconography, man-made and natural materials, texture, hues and design, fashioned into familiar scenes. Indeed, many artistic mediums are at work here.
“The studio works represented here are the result of time, memory and opportunity,” says Tony, one of WA’s most respected creative talents.
“After 50 years of teaching, it has been a privilege over the past four years to choose to make art as my day job.”
Tony credits his studio space for the current collection of creations.
“The studio, with its aggregation of equipment artefacts and inspiration, is a wonderful resource,” he says.
“I have greatly valued having the right tool for the job, the place to spread out and have works in various stages of completion, to be able to put things aside, to revisit, to rework, discard and retain.
“Work begets work and the best ideas are those that are serendipitous: the new works arise from the process. I have tried to allow these thoughts and processes to manifest themselves in this body of work.”
Perhaps the most heard phrase among guests at last week’s exhibition opening was, “Oh, I remember that!” as locals recognised objects and scenes from halcyon years.
“The themes and preoccupations are variations on a life lived on and around the Swan River and the Indian Ocean,” says Tony.
“Not to say it is just a coastal water-based experience. Through many field trips to mid west station country, I have an ongoing, subconscious awareness of the vast regions that provide a background to our urban existence.”
Examples of this are his life-size constructions of iconic contraptions and working machinery.
“The Tin Canoe is a way of recalling life for me growing up on the rivers edge in Mosman Bay,” he explains. “It is a rudimentary craft in both senses of the word: a means of getting afloat, and the beginnings of making a way in the world.
“The 1950s original tin canoe was made from a sheet of salvaged corrugated iron, nails, jarrah from a fruit box and tar scraped from a hot road. Perhaps this is where my preference for recycled materials and the found object had its roots.”
Australia’s ubiquitous farm windmills also feature in the exhibition.
“The three masts/towers capped by discarded windmill tails continue a need to connect with the wind. We are all affected by the patterns of the wind, the influence of the seasons and both consistency and variability of its direction and speed.
“The vanes are visual evidence that in kinetic performance they animate and enter our immediate space. They speak to us. Each windmill tail has text and imagery that helps recapture a story. Each has a unique localised focus.”
Ironing boards and boats also tell their parochial story in this intriguing show.
“The three ironing boards are also redundant cast off artefacts remade as vehicles of enduring domestic scale,” says Tony.
“The formal qualities of each of the main elements, the board, the mesh and wheels all contribute to the open reading of each artwork.
“The two main boat sections, the Bow and the Halvorsen stem post with the Night Heron both tell a story of lost craft. Both are of a scale that confronts and invites close consideration and examination of making.”
A series of unique wall sculptures also festoon the rooms at Gallows, most drawn from the world of Australiana.
“The steel wall works can all be seen as sketches that allow for the combination of favoured symbols and artefacts that have been configured to tell a story or capture a memory,” says the artist.
“In all of these artworks there is a common rudimentary archaeology informing their evolution.”
The paintings on paper and board recall art works Tony did over 50 years ago whilst a teacher in Collie and Nollamara.
“The subject matter has not shifted much and locked away techniques have resurfaced with the added benefit of time.”
“As a necessary indulgence, I went back to the beginning and reacquainted myself with the feelings and experiences I once had at work all those years ago.”
For more information about Tony and the current exhibition, go to the Gallows website at https://www.gallowsgallery.com/tony-jones-sculpture
The Tin Canoe exhibition runs at Gallows Gallery until Sunday, 19 May.
53 Glyde Street, Mosman Park, WA 6012
Phone +61 (08) 9286 4730
Mobile +61 (4) 17 172 815
Gallery opening hours:
Tuesday to Thursday: 10am – 4:30pm
Friday 10am – 2pm, Saturday: 11am – 4:30pm, Sunday: 2 – 5pm
Or by appointment