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Morgan Jones: Recent Work

Morgan Jones: Recent Work

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  • Tue 7 Dec ’10, 5:00pm – 7:00pm
  • Wed 8 Dec ’10, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Thu 9 Dec ’10, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Fri 10 Dec ’10, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Sat 11 Dec ’10, 12:00pm – 4:00pm
  • Sun 12 Dec ’10, 12:00pm – 4:00pm
  • Mon 13 Dec ’10, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Tue 14 Dec ’10, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Wed 15 Dec ’10, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Thu 16 Dec ’10, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Fri 17 Dec ’10, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Sat 18 Dec ’10, 12:00pm – 4:00pm
  • Sun 19 Dec ’10, 12:00pm – 4:00pm
  • Mon 20 Dec ’10, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Tue 21 Dec ’10, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Wed 22 Dec ’10, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Thu 23 Dec ’10, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Fri 24 Dec ’10, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Wed 5 Jan ’11, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Thu 6 Jan ’11, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Fri 7 Jan ’11, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Sat 8 Jan ’11, 12:00pm – 4:00pm
  • Sun 9 Jan ’11, 12:00pm – 4:00pm
  • Mon 10 Jan ’11, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Tue 11 Jan ’11, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Wed 12 Jan ’11, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Thu 13 Jan ’11, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Fri 14 Jan ’11, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Sat 15 Jan ’11, 12:00pm – 4:00pm
  • View all sessions


CoCA - Toi Moroki Centre of Contemporary Art , 66 Gloucester Street, Christchurch Show map


All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Free Admission

Born in Surrey, England, in 1934, Morgan Jones settled in Christchurch in 1955, attending Christchurch Teachers’ Training College 1958-59. Self-taught, Jones has been making sculpture since the mid 1960s. National recognition came in 1975 when the artist received the Hansell’s Sculpture Award, and in 1985 Jones was profiled in Art New Zealand.[1] Currently, Jones is represented in many public collections. In 2004, Christchurch Art Gallery hosted a major retrospective: Journeys and Decisions.

As David Eggleton points out, Jones’ 1970s work combines ‘constructivist principles… with New Zealand’s rural vernacular architecture.’[2] Exemplary, are pieces like Slung (1978) or Standing Pack (1978). Employing everyday materials (roughly worked wood, metal clips, leather straps), these works are, at once, abstract exercises in form and balance, and ‘imaginary machines’ which seem, most immediately, to evoke the rugged self-reliance and practicality of rural New Zealand as opposed to the rarefied, other-world of the art gallery. Indeed, Jones has observed of sculptures like these that they are‘vaguely reminiscent of something you would find hanging in an implement shed, their purpose not defined, but objects that had once briefly been associated with agricultural production.’[3] Farming, Jones suggests, is in his blood (most of his Welsh relatives are farmers), and the artist made his first living in New Zealand as a farm-worker. However, far from being slavish odes to rusticity, Jones also connects these objects with bindings and restraints, tacitly equating ‘farms’ with ‘prisons’ or even ‘concentration camps.’[4]

Given the artist’s rural focus, it is unsurprising that many of his works (in a fashion that echoes 1970s site artists like Robert Smithson) are actually installed in natural settings. Examples include the very Smithson-esque Gap (1980) – an installation of river stones, contained within pine frameworks, located on adjacent sides of the Waingawa River, Masterton – and the Mt Gay-sited 300 Steps (1982), which Jones describes as an ‘anti-gallery thing… that in context and size could only stand in the landscape.’[5] This tension, between the forms and constraints of rural life and those of the art gallery, is perennial in the artist’s oeuvre. More recently, it is evident in Untitled (1993) – an arcing fence-structure made from tanalised pine, located in Whakatipua, Central Otago. Both a barrier and an open form that echoes elements of the surrounding landscape, it seems a precise rural equivalent for Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc (1981). This tension is also discernible in Scissor (2004) (in the sculpture garden of Christchurch Art Gallery): a ‘visual anagram’ (in Jones’ words) that both abstracts and monumentalizes a prosaic Yale padlock. In the process, perhaps, Jones breaks down barriers between fine art and everyday life, playfully and purposefully inviting us to ‘unlock’ our preconceptions in either domain.

- David Khan

[1] Tom Weston, ‘Morgan Jones: The Ascent Beckons,’ Art New Zealand, n35, Winter 1985.

[2] David Eggleton, ‘Like dancing to architecture,’ New Zealand Listener, v190, n3303, 30 August – 5 September 2003.

[3] Morgan Jones interviewed by Sarah Pepperle, ‘In Retrospect,’ Christchurch Art Gallery Bulletin, b137, June-August 2004, 12.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

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