Man’s exploitation of animals is the target of Claude Jones’s intentionally subversive art. Soft colours and decorative elements belie the sinister narrative content and intent of her works; in the same way that the sordid underbelly of ‘legitimate’ mistreatment and exploitation of animals for food and entertainment and in the service of science is often repressed and sugar-coated.
A suite of delicate floral firearms, baby-blue rifles and pastel-pink shotguns are cast in fragile porcelain clay. They are not toys, and aimed at anything but child’s play. The artist is signaling the mixed messages and attitudes to animals that are, wittingly or not, imparted to children by adults. Endangered species is a cluster of ceramic, pale, embryonic, cloned and mutant hybrid creatures that huddle together seemingly for protection. They are drawn from species that are introduced; a mix of fox, deer and rabbit. All are animals that are hunted or ‘culled’ in Australia, seen as pests for both flora and fauna, and as the artist notes, “a threat to the illusive construct of balanced ecology.”
Known for her poignant and acerbic collages and drawings and potent mixed media sculptures, Claude Jones has undertaken specialist international study programs and associated residencies to develop her ceramic skills for Broken. The medium is apt for a body of work that takes aim at the broken bodies and broken trust of man’s duplicitous fragile compact with animals.
By perversely transposing animals as both perpetrators and victims in her images, Claude Jones focuses on acts of destruction of habitat that impact both offender and quarry. The artist astutely renders her works in the way of storybook illustrations and children’s playthings. The delicacy of drawing, beautiful soft colors and child-like innocent guise of these works potently enhances the grim impact of their underlying messages.
Claude Jones’s works are held in the collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Artbank and international public and private collections.