Rhondda Valley

Jacqueline Janine Jones

How can such a simple little painting carry so much weight? This quiet scene by Jacqueline Janine Jones depicts a family from the former coal mining area of the Rhondda Valley.

In the foreground, a couple look despondent, with heads slightly bowed and distant eyes lost in thought. While, behind them, an old coal mine leans away from the pair, which reminds us of the Valley’s industrious past.

Between the couple and the mine, a large void catches the eye and is perhaps symbolic of the gulf left when so many mines were contentiously closed. For me, this void draws the eye to such a degree that it could be considered the subject.

Jacqueline explained that her family on her father’s side were directly affected by the mine closures, as so many others were during the 1990s.

It either caught them in a trap or forced them to change.

The mines provided local communities with employment opportunities and often gave its workers a sense of pride through their labour. The work itself was hellish, but a preference to the unemployment that followed. Many parts of rural Wales are still yet to recover.

Jacqueline was born in West Wales and is a member of the ‘Stuckist’ movement. Founded in 1999, the Stuckists promote painting and oppose conceptual art. They’re well known for campaigning against the Turner Prize at Tate Britain, along with several other high-profile demonstrations.

One of Jacqueline’s works is being exhibited at The Mall Galleries, London, SW1, as part of its inaugural Wales Contemporary Exhibition. This runs between the 5th and 10th of November 2019 and you can find more information on its website.

You’ll also find Jacqueline on Instagram.