After completing an art foundation course at Chester John studied painting at the Camberwell School of Art followed by postgraduate study Printmaking and painting at the Byam Shaw School of Drawing and painting, where he developed an interest in etching (aquatint). He subsequently undertook a postgraduate course in Fine Art Printmaking at the Central School of Art & Design. John then started to exhibit his work on a regular basis in London, Chester and Wales, where he had a number of one and two-person shows; in addition, he has exhibited in major open exhibitions such as the Royal Academy Summer exhibition. In 1985 John moved from London to North Wales, where he continued to work as a practicing artist, as well as lecturing in art at Bangor University and Coleg Llandrillo. John until recently was a 0.5 lecture at Coleg Llandrillo where he taught fine art since 1994.
In October 2010 he was awarded an Arts Council of Wales Research Grant. During this period he researched photo-polymer etching. In January 2012 John was awarded an Arts Council of Wales Individuals Production Grant to develop a body of work for exhibition in paint, print, and collage using innovative techniques and utilizing local materials - Parys mountain pigment - to explore the concepts of stress and layering, with special reference to the geology of GeoMôn, Anglesey Geopark, where he was artist in residence. During the project he spent much time researching photo etching and ways of combining it with more traditional methods of intaglio printmaking such as using carborundum.
In 2015 John secured a further Arts Council of Wales Research and Development Grant to enable further explorations of process in the project ‘Stress, Layering and Cracking (Two Islands: Crete & Ynys Mon)’. On the basis of the resulting work a further Arts Council of Wales Individuals Production Grant in 2017 (for the project ‘Fingertips in Time: Artwork from Crete/Ynys Mon Natural Forms’) allowed for the work to be developed as a series of exhibitions.
Cymdeithas Daeareg Gogledd Cymru
North Wales Geology Association
Geology meets Art in Anglesey.
Mathematics comprises a system of provable propositions which can be used to build further, systematic and testable truths. Physics and chemistry progress by way of experiments which can be repeated by impartial observers. Geology however is a formalised system of observation, since few propositions can be tested directly - it is not possible to include the vastness of time, pressure, temperature or space in the experiments that are performed, although they are informed by mathematical, physical and chemical principles. Reading the landscape is a key process, to infer the dip of beds, the plunge of fold axes, the course of dykes or trace of faults. In days dominated by the process of mapping the geology of our country the production of field sketches was a shorthand way of encoding those observations, and highly proficient, artistic outcomes were occasionally produced.
In our modern, digital age, we don't do that as much as we should, because the clarity of vision that emerges is very valuable indeed, but instead we are inclined to capture a quick camera image and deal with it later. Good, old chemical film was good for that as well, even if the outcome could not be verified so promptly. In the days before photography was available, and even afterwards when fragile, glass plates required coating and processing in the field, it was necessary to take an artist along to bring back the memories in a visual form. One such was Thomas Moran (1837-1926), who accompanied the great expeditions to the 'Wild' West of America and was responsible for instilling in the minds of the viewing public the ideal of the 'sublime landscape' of wilderness and untamed nature and instrumental in the creation of the world's first national park.
Closer to home the renowned artistic school of Betws y Coed that flourished in the later nineteenth century were driven by the purity of the natural landscape and revelled in the patterns and textures of rocks, water and vegetation. This strong ideal was also endorsed by John Ruskin, who emphasised truth to nature rather than stylistic convention, and regarded the emergent study of geology as the underlying principle for the understanding of the world, and his many sketches of rocks, outcrop and landscape embodied the emerging 'scientific' principles of geology and mineralogy which were a passion for him. His thinking was admired by the Hudson River School of artists, of whom Thomas Moran was a member, so we may have to give him greater credit than is recognised at home. A modern artist inspired by the landscape and geology is John Hedley, resident in Anglesey since 1985 where he has continued his work as a practising artist, exhibiting in London, Germany and within Wales as well as lecturing in drawing, painting and printmaking at Bangor University and Coleg Llandrillo. In subsequent years he continued to develop his fine art practice and to exhibit throughout North Wales.
From 2000 John began to develop the theme of the micro or hidden landscape by use of a more abstract approach. He has since begun to incorporate collage and to experiment with irregular supports to create a more organic feel to his images. In October 2010 he was awarded an Arts Council of Wales grant for Research and Development Working with Paint, Print and Digital Imaging. Most recently, in January 2012 John was awarded a Welsh Arts Council grant for “Developing a body of work for exhibition in print, collage and paint using innovative techniques and utilizing local materials to explore the concepts of stress and layering, with special reference to the geology of Geo Môn (the Anglesey Geopark)". His work has also been influenced by the rock formations on the island of Crete, which are similarly tectonic in origin, though much younger than Anglesey and dominated by limestones. The images in his exhibition were a series of intaglio prints where he has combined solar plate, carborundum and photec.
He has used pigments which he extracted fromParys Mountain and made into ink for some of the prints. "The organic abstraction and the ambiguous patterns and layering I find in rock formations, are leading me on towards exploring the multi-faceted possibilities of manifestations of existence in nature". John makes some of his own inks for the printing processes, collecting pigments from locations such as Parys Mountain and processing the raw materials by selecting, heating, grinding and blending for the desired shades. Similar techniques could be used to produce oil paints, and he notes that these pigments are similar to the pigments the Minoans were using in their ceramics and paintings, and would like to do more research into this. Intaglio is an Italian word meaning "to incise". Intaglio prints can be of etching, photo etching (photopolymer), carborundum, mezzotint , dry point and collograph. The ink is rubbed into the plate and then wiped off the surface with scrim and tissue leaving the ink in the textures or indentations. The tonality of the ink is dependent on the depth of the indentations.
The plate is the placed on the bed of a press and covered with damp paper and blankets and then rolled through. “To make this series of prints I have used four different intaglio processes which are non-etch, photec, etch-photec, solar plate and carborundum. The colour prints are a combination of two carborundum plates and one photec or solar plate. This is achieved by inking-up a solar plate in the normal intaglio manner and then printing it onto a piece of paper which is then printed onto to two or three pieces of card (off-setting). Carborundum grit is mixed with varnish or Acrylic impasto medium. This is then painted onto the plates using the printed images as a guide (the carborundum holds the ink). The three plates are then inked-up using at least three different colours and printed onto damp paper using a hand-made registration system. Photopolymer prints (photec and solar plate) are firstly made from a digital image which is manipulated on Photoshop and converted to monochrome.
This is printed onto acetate to make it a positive. It is then possible to draw onto the plate with a photo pen to make anyappropriate changes. The metal plates are covered with a light-sensitive photopolymer film. The positive is then place on the bed of an exposure-unit with the emulsion side up and then the plate is placed onto the positive so the polymer is touching the positive. Ultraviolet light eats into the polymer creating indentations which are suitable for the intaglio printing process. The plate is then developed in water for solar plates and diluted soda ash for photec. The plates are finally hardened in ultra violet light. The plates are then ready for printing.” Having seen John's prints and processes, I have to say that the results are remarkable, fascinating, abstracted images which capture a huge amount of detail from the original scene which was the inspiration. I have included some images for article, but it must be said that the reproduction does not do them justice.
After John's kind invitation to see his studio and work, we spent time discussing the geology of Ynys Mo^n and the way that the Precambrian basement has been assembled by the juxtaposition of disparate rock units through the tectonic forces, and the subsequent elevation of the deeper levels of the crust to the present surface by the injection of hot magma which has burst through the domed structure to form the spectacular series of dykes. With this agenda in mind, we then set off on a short field trip so that some particularly fine exposures could be viewed and interpreted. John was particularly interested to see a dyke, so we visited Trearddur Bay and Porth Dafarch looking at the deformation of the New Harbour Group, picked up beach pebbles of gabbro and marvelled at the jointing and differential erosion of the magnificent dyke, all fitting well into John's themes of stress and layering. It was a long, intense day and as the light and opportunity faded we felt that we had explored, learned and interpreted a great deal of geological territory. At times I felt as if I was experiencing the scene with new eyes and enthusiasm, and it was a most rewarding excursion. John is resident artist in the Ynys Mon Geopark, and a small selection of his work can be found through their web site:
2017 Gallery 6, Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno
2017 Ucheldre Centre, Holyhead, Anglesey
2017 Oriel Sycharth, Glyndwr University, Wrexham
2015 Editions Gallery, Liverpool
2000 Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Llanbedrog, North Wales
1994 Studio 8, Malpas, Cheshire
1993 Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Llanbedrog, North Wales
1989 The Other Dulwich Picture Gallery, London
1987 Henry Brett Galleries, London
Addison Ross Gallery, Belgravia, London
1986 Oriel Pendeitch, Caernarfon, North Wales
Henry Brett Galleries, London
1985 Henry Brett Galleries, London
1984 Pitcairn Gallery, Knutsford, Cheshire
1982 Henry Brett Galleries, London
2014 Oriel Ynys Mon, Anglesey, North Wales
2013 Oriel Bangor, Bangor, North Wales
2009 Oriel Rhyl, Rhyl, Denbighshire
2007 Ucheldre Centre, Holyhead, Anglesey
2007 Theatre Clwyd, Mold, Flintshire
1999 Oriel Ynys Mon, Anglesey, North Wales
1991 Herrenberg, Stuttgart, Germany
1991 Richard Wilson Arts Centre, North Wales
1990 Richard Wilson Arts Centre, North Wales
1986 Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Llanbedrog, North Wales
(Featured on HTV’s Scene at Six)
1984 Park Walk Gallery, London
1982 Annexe Gallery, London
1980 Picture Gallery, London
2016 Royal Cambrian Academy, Conwy, North Wales
2015 Royal Cambrian Academy, Conwy, North Wales
2014 Warrington Art Gallery, Warrington, Cheshire
2013 Oriel Wrexham, Wrexham, North Wales
2012 Royal Cambrian Academy, Conwy, North Wales
2009 Royal Cambrian Academy, Conwy, North Wales
2006 Royal Cambrian Academy, Conwy, North Wales
2002 Wrexham Print Open, Oriel Wrexham, North Wales
2001 Gallery G, Alexandria, Virginia, USA
1999 Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Llanbedrog, North Wales
1995 Art for All, Watergate Street Gallery, Chester
1994 Church Hill Galleries, Knutsford, Cheshire
1994 Art for All, Watergate Street Gallery, Chester
1994 Oriel Bangor, Bangor, North Wales
1993 Soest, Germany
1992 Oriel Bangor, Bangor, North Wales
1990 Llewellyn Alexander Gallery, London
1990 Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London
1989 Oriel Pendeitch, Caernarfon, North Wales
1988 Singer & Friedlander Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London
1989 Llewellyn Alexander Gallery, London
1988 Anna Mia Chadwick Gallery, London
1988 Fulham Gallery, London
1986 New Grafton Gallery, London
1986 Henry Brett Galleries, Gloucestershire
1986 Images Gallery, London
1986 Ombersley Gallery, Ombersley, Worcestershire
1986 Spirit of London, Royal Festival Hall, London
1985 Pitcairn Gallery, Knutsford, Cheshire
1983 Maas Gallery, Bond Street, London
1983 Pitcairn Gallery, Knutsford, Cheshire
1983 Park Walk Gallery, London
1983 Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London
1983 Malcolm Innes Gallery, London
1982 New Grafton Gallery, London
1979 Arts Council Exhibition, Harlow, Essex
1978 North West Artists, Chester Arts Centre, Chester
1978 Mall Prints, Mall Galleries, London
1978 Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London
2017 Arts Council of Wales Individuals Production Grant for the project ‘Fingertips in Time': Artwork from Crete/Ynys Mon Natural Forms’.
2015 Arts Council of Wales Research and Development Grant to enable further explorations of process in the project ‘Stress, Layering and Cracking (Two Islands: Crete & Ynys Mon)’.
2012 Arts Council of Wales Individuals Production Grant to develop a body of work for exhibition in print, collage and paint using innovative techniques and utilizing local materials to explore the concepts of stress and layering, with special reference to the geology of Geo Môn (Anglesey Geopark).
2010 Arts Council of Wales Small Project Grant for research and development of print and digital imaging (in collaboration with Graham Hembrough).
2015 Member, Royal Cambrian Academy
2002 – 2004 PGCE, University of Wales, Newport
1979 – 1980 Postgraduate Studies in Fine Art Printmaking, Central School of Art & Design, London
1976 – 1977 Postgraduate Scholarship in Fine Art,
Byam Shaw School of Drawing & Painting, London
1972 – 1975 BA (Hons) Fine Art, Camberwell School of Art, London
1990 – 2016 Lecturer in Fine Art, Bangor University, Bangor, North Wales
1994 – 2015 Lecturer in Fine Art, Coleg Llandrillo, North Wales
1989 – 1994 Occasional Lecturer for the Friends of the Royal Academy, Richard Wilson Arts Centre, Nantle, Gwynedd
1983 – 1993 Burton Manor Residential College for Adult Education, Merseyside
1984 – 1985 Lecturer, Camberwell School of Art, London
1982 Lecturer, Harlow Technical College, Harlow, Essex
1981 – 1982 Printmaking Lecturer, Winchester School of Art, Winchester
1983Visiting Lecturer, Bournemouth & Poole School of Art, Bournemouth
1981 – 1982 Visiting Lecturer, Bristol Polytechnic, Bristol
1976 – 1977 Visiting Lecturer, Byam Shaw School of Drawing & Painting, London
1975 – 1976 Burleighfield Art Centre – some teaching & helped run the centre