This event marked the ten year anniversary since local Hastings artist Jonny Cole died January 2007, in Cambodia. A gathering to remember and celebrate Jon's life, his work as a painter and the inspiration that has become his legacy to many Hastings and St Leonards residents through his paintings and of course quite simply for the person he was.
The ground floor of the Gallery at Kino featured twenty of Jon's paintings spanning a short but prolific two decades.
During the course of the evening, the JDWC website was launched (jdwc.org) and visitors were also treated to five short films in the packed Kino cinema. The first two featured Jon at work in his studio at 12 Claremont in Hastings and also preparing for his final 'Coleshow' at Arch 1 Braybrooke Terrace.
Kenton Lowe (BlackShed Gallery, Robertsbridge) introduced 'Write Off' a film that documented a 2 week workshop with a group of local teenagers with Prader Willi syndrome which, as Tim Cole penned in his production notes for the evening … featured, 'the most brutal tool in the kit - the grinder meets the most dangerous object ever created - the car. Part autopsy, part challenge, partly the act of parting, the group concentrate on the task of dividing a car and forging friendships and new skills in the process'.
Local artist Kate Adams of Project Artworks introduced a film that featured Jon working with local children with profound and complex impairments and Brighton resident Tim Dunkerley introduced 'One stone to another' a result of a collaboration between staff and students from East Brighton College of Media and Arts (COMART), Downs View School, a team of multi-disciplinary artists put together by the education department of Glyndebourne Opera, (led by Stephen Langridge), and musicians from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
The evening culminated on an inspirational note from Jon's dear friend and local art tutor Rod Harman and an anecdote from Jon's mother Linda of how Jon once motivated his art students by entering an empty life drawing class via the ceiling - shouting 'draw the legs' as he poked them through the hole in the plasterwork above them. Classic Jon!
In 1994 Jon wrote
'Painting has become my way in life. I have concentrated on this more than anything else'
'These paintings make little attempt to inspire with subliminal imagery but are concerned with language, the surface language of paint. He presents us with an image of Mohammed Ali or a tree or an image inspired from the Bible or a seemingly process driven abstraction, however in effect we are presented with a blank canvas, a space in or on which to act - to create. Here is a tree, here is a relic of Christianity that has shaped our culture ... here is nothing, nothing more than a painting. The paintings are flat and upfront, in your face with an emphasis on surface, however, the obsessive nature of the imagery and of the marks, coupled with the very pared down-ness of the paintings, intrigues, creating vast spaces that you can get lost in.
Jonathan believed passionately in painting and this is the overriding feeling one gets when confronted by this modest selection of his paintings'.
In his final year, Jon had been working on a picture of local BMX rider known affectionately as 'Boyley' He also drafted a proposal for a large mural of Boyle for a wall in Hastings town centre. The site that Jon had his eye on was adjacent to the pedestrianised area opposite what was the Street bar/Crypt. A copy of Jon's proposal is included. It is not known whether he actually sent it to Hastings Council.
RICHARD BOYLE MEMORIAL MURAL PROJECT
The annual BOYLE JAM is the inspiration.
A testament to a young man who died well before any of us would have wished; and a person who is well remembered by generations of people.
Out of such love and regard comes a clear indication of a need for inspired intervention, notably; Hasting’s first public owned mural.
‘The America Ground’ mural is both popular and commemorative. ‘The Cambridge Road’ mural will be a site for local respect and celebration. - on the entertainment corner, close to the old memorial site.
We feel this is an opportunity to take possession of a local project proposed by a practitioner from the arts community. - Jon Cole 2006
Surely now is the time to realise this proposal and a much more comprehensive look at the large body of work that Jon created.