The photo in the middle is the one of my father that I like most – it shows him at work and in Italy, which was paradise for him. Small boys would offer him endless well-meant serious advice, and my mother’s job, apart from being the model for any human beings in the picture, was to engage them in conversation to avoid distracting the artist. He was incredibly accurate: she said he counted the stones in his drawings of bridges. He was born out of time: he had little regard for Picasso and others of his ilk. Goodness knows how he would have reacted to modern conceptual art as dignified by the Turner Prize.
Raymond Jones (1886-1942), was born in Ashton-Under-Lyne in Lancashire, into a musical family, and soon showed outstanding artistic ability. Paul Sanderson wrote: “His early interest in art was actively discouraged by his parents, so much so that, whilst still of school age, and in despair, he decided to run away from home…. After a few days, he returned disheveled, tired out and with no soles on his shoes…. he had walked to Birmingham to visit an art exhibition, and had only returned home because…. he had ‘heard a voice’ urging him to do so.”
He started work at 14 in the drawing office of the National Gas & Oil Co Ltd in Ashton, but also attended evening classes, and later the Heginbottom School of Art, where he had a sympathetic teacher. He got a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London in 1907, aged 21; entered the Studio of Jean Paul Laurens, Academie Julian, Paris, in 1911, and changed his name to Raymond Ray-Jones on the advice of his tutors. During the 1914-18 war he served as a clerk with the Royal Horse Artillery at Woolwich, due to ill health. It was probably in 1922 that his tutor at the RCA, Sir Frank Short, suggested his name to Edward Holroyd Pearce, to make portraits of Edward’s parents. In 1926 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers, and married Edward’s sister, Effie Pearce (1899-1996), my mother, who had been training first to be a doctor, then a physiotherapist. She outlived my father by 54 years, and lived an active life in London for most of them.
I was born in London in 1930, and in 1933 my parents moved to Carbis Bay near St Ives in Cornwall, where there was a strong artists’ community. My brother Philip was born in 1933, and Tony – who inherited my father’s artistic genes and became a well-known photographer – was born in 1941. My parents had difficulty in making ends meet, for my father was very painstaking and slow, producing few pictures. It is said that he was very depressed by the Second World War, particularly since it cut him off from France and Italy, which provided the inspiration for most of his pictures, but the last straw may have been an income tax demand which he could not meet. He died at Carbis Bay on 26 February 1942.
His father was Samuel Shepley Jones (1862-1932), a cabinet maker, and Samuel’s parents were Frederick Jones , a house painter (born about 1824 in Pendlebury, Lancashire), and Elizabeth Shepley (born 1826). His mother was Martha Agnes Hulme (1861-1927), before she married Samuel; her father was George Hulme , a ‘self-acting minder’ in the weaving trade, (born about 1832 in Gorton, Lancashire), and her mother was born Ellen Sharrock in Wigan, Lancashire in about 1833.
A profusely illustrated 24 page treatise about Raymond Ray-Jones by Cornish Art Historian David Tovey was published in February 2017 as Issue No 12 of The Siren, a newsletter for those interested in St Ives Representational Art.
The document is included on this page; click the link below to open it in a pop-up window.
The Siren, Issue No 12, February 2017 (Special Raymond Ray-Jones Issue) (a 13Mb download)