Doug Jones’ new mixed-media exhibition at mac is infused with a playful contemplation of covert ritual, and the relationship between the social and the spiritual.
In the sculptural installation Inservi Deo et Laetare (Serve God and be Cheerful) the artist introduces us to the remarkable lives of the fictional Brotherhood of Saints, supposedly founded in 1573 by Zadak Nathan Solomon Jones. The Saints are both mysterious and ridiculous, exploring serious issues such as drug abuse and gay rights through Jones’ trademark dark humour.
Their robes are individually embroidered with symbols which relate to their own bizarre narratives; nude angels, death’s head skulls, and the square and compass all make an appearance. Some indicate a coalescence of spirituality and sexuality, some the tension between individualism and community.
Through the unlikely media of ceramics and cross stitch, Jones also astutely examines many of the key social and political issues of our time, such as gender, sexuality, class and economics. A central feature of Jones’ exhibition at mac is the installation Coena Pro Viginta (Dinner for Twenty). The installation makes use of mass produced commemorative ceramics, which, once treasured, can now be found neglected in car boot sales and dusty attics. In this way, Jones engages with issues of value and exchange.
These themes are continued in his cross stitch works, which emphasise the domestic focus of his practice. Through the laborious embroidery process Jones highlights the difference between the time, skill and labour invested in the production of such items, and their monetary worth.
Exhibition curator Indra Khanna said “Jones is prolific artist who hungrily consumes a wide range of influences from both high and low culture… Don’t let the toilet humour distract you from the seriousness of his themes – it’s whistling in the dark. We will ourselves be taking the places of the departed guests at the next serving, or donning the robes of his hollow Saints.”
Doug Jones will be giving an illustrated talk on his work on Thu 5 May, 7.30pm.
Curator Indra Khanna will be giving a free public tour of the exhibition in the gallery on Sat 16 April, 2pm.
Admission Details and Times
Sat 26 Mar – Sun 15 May
Open Tuesday – Saturday, noon – 8pm
Sunday 11am – 4pm.
Closed Monday except for bank holidays.
Gallery & Studio Gallery
mac, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, B12 9QH