Sal Jones interview

By Kala Bennu (

' Self Portrait: Looking Forward' 2014
' Self Portrait: Looking Forward' 2014

Sal Jones is a world class painter specialising in the Art of Portraiture. She holds a BA Hons degree in Fine Art, and her art work has been successfully showcased in an impressive volume of different art galleries and art festivals and in open and group exhibitions like: Society of Women Artists (SWA) at the Mall Galleries, BEEP Wales, ING Discerning Eye, Portraits at Espacio Gallery, ID at Display Gallery, and Sweet 'Art group exhibitions to only mention just a few.


The very lucky private collectors from all over the world, including the UK, Europe and United States, have the privilege of owning some of her revolutionary art works in their collections.


Apart from being genuinely humane in her portraiture art, Sal Jones is a true maestro of the use of colour. Her palette is bold, and non compromising when it comes to executing emotions in the viewer of her art, as the figures (characters) she paints give no excuses for not seeing a human and invite the viewer to care about the story behind its face. This person­centred approach to her art, along  with cinematography inspired techniques of re­enacting photographs and found  images, especially her recent project, make her work an exquisite journey into the depths of humanity, allowing her artistic signature to be recognised immediately. Each portrait welcomes us into an incredibly intense world of magical realism, and each story told by each portrait means to each one of us something different. And as she says by herself: ''Through the process of exploring colour and form with paint, I hope to create works that are visually exciting and that engage the viewer. I don’t want the work to be too prescriptive but to remain ambiguous and open to interpretation''.

How and when did you realise you were an artist?

I’m not sure there is a realisation as such. I’ve always made things and been creative from a young age, I enjoyed art and found it absorbed me. I decided I wanted to go to Art College after school so I suppose it was then that I considered it a vocation and something I was serious about.

Did anyone specially encourage you to become an artist?

Not specifically, although family were and always have been supportive, in their own way (however I’m not sure they considered Fine Art a wise degree choice at the time). 

How would you describe the form of your art, and its style?

Usually figurative or rooted in representation in some way, although quite often my marks and processes can be quite abstract.

'The Unreliability Of Perception Series'  2015
'The Unreliability Of Perception Series' 2015
'Let's Get It Over With' 2013
'Let's Get It Over With' 2013

How important is diversity of media in your art work? What other media would you like to explore in the future?

I have explored various media in the past (and no doubt will continue to do so). For me the media can dictate the outcome; I respond to images/objects and materials/processes. For instance if I am working in paint, or 2D collage materials I will usually work from flat source images (frequently photographs or montages). If I am working in sculpture I often respond to the materials themselves to create the image (using found objects and assemblages to create the sculptural outcome). The main thing is to keep creating in order to find the next direction, even if you are not sure where you are going; if you stop and think it through too much you can lose the spontaneity and excitement and work becomes contrived.

Various earlier mixed media works dating from the 1990's
Various earlier mixed media works dating from the 1990's

What is the most important message you would like to communicate through your art?

Make/believe/feel, don’t take things at face value. I don’t want the work to be too prescriptive but to remain ambiguous, open to individual interpretation. I don’t want a passive observer, I want to create an interaction, a response or empathy that is personal to the viewer. Essentially, I’d like to elicit an emotional connection between the subject and the spectator.

'The Truth', 'The Whole Truth', 'Nothing But The Truth'  2015 (triptych)
'The Truth', 'The Whole Truth', 'Nothing But The Truth' 2015 (triptych)
'I Was Hasty' (plastic bags on canvas) 2015
'I Was Hasty' (plastic bags on canvas) 2015

Your art is strongly embedded in your cultural and ethnic identity – what does identity mean to you, and what in your opinion is the best way to understand one's own identity?

I guess your own identity is made up of your particular individual characteristics but how we determine these can vary, you have the perception of self, how you perceive yourself in your environment/group and how others perceive you; these viewpoints of course can be radically different and we can only begin to imagine things through each other’s perspective. My paintings from the ‘Unreliability of Perception’ series are sort of about this – that we cannot truly trust our own perceptions. What we see is a distorted reality and we are all confused and somewhat isolated because of this.

'We're Not Thinking about Tomorrow' 2015
'We're Not Thinking about Tomorrow' 2015

If you were to name your inspirational 'time and space' zones, what would they be? In other words: what makes you feel and be inspired, and what keeps you artistically evolving?

I am happy when I am creating – there is a sense of fulfilment, of course it is not always successful and the downside is that it can be extremely hard when things are not going right. But in terms of what inspires me – lots of things – I’m a very visual person so it’s often things I’ve seen, but it can also be things I’ve heard or interesting books I’ve read. Anything that moves me to want to make notes, and notes usually mean ideas….

'Someone's Watching Us' 2015
'Someone's Watching Us' 2015

What other media would you like to explore in the future?

Well I suppose I should get more into ‘new’ media??!! It’s not something I’ve explored much other than digital photography manipulation – I’m not sure how much I want to at this stage and whether it is practical for me (but possibly moving image) I don’t know we’ll see what happens.

What are you working on at the moment?

Current work examines emotion and perception through fictitious characters and decontextualised dialogue. I’m interested in developing ideas around fiction and reality and shifting contexts, how we interpret and relate to images as spectators and how they affect us.

What other art works and artists do you appreciate, and what would be your dream collaboration?

Tricky one – certainly there are lots of artists whose work I admire – I hadn’t really considered collaboration, and in some instances that would be impossible as they are no longer with us. From a living contemporary artist, then maybe Christian Marclay. Some artists whose work I like: Francis Bacon, Jenny Saville, Gerhard Richter, Cecily Brown, Michael Borremans, Oskar Kokoschka, Van Gogh, Picasso, Kiki Smith, Louise bourgeois, Niki de Saint Phalle, George Segal, Arman, Cindy Sherman, Bill Viola, Christian Marclay

As the TRIBE 15 festival's main theme states: ''Exploring the current meaning of belonging'', I thought it would be interesting to encourage discussion about the meaning of identity as an artist, and her/his perception of different perspectives that this statement inspires. As we all live in different ethnic communities, coming from different cultural backgrounds, there is always something valuable and unique, that we can learn from one another. Could you please elaborate on this a little?

I think this is an interesting title and theme – particularly when you consider that most artists often work in isolation and therefore can sometimes feel that they struggle to 'belong' or feel overlooked (I certainly do at times). By bringing together all these different artists who work in very different ways and as you say come from very different backgrounds, I believe that Tribe is seeking to create a dialogue, a way of understanding and appreciating these different artists and what they do; encouraging a community rather than a hierarchy and one where we can learn from and work with each other, as artists and as exhibition visitors. Interestingly when I heard of the exhibition I did not think that my work would fit and it was Javier Melian (one of the main organisers) who very kindly encouraged me to submit; you see, in some ways the characters in my paintings are alone and one can read into this that they don't feel they belong, so I didn't think they would fit into a 'Tribe' theme (which I considered as meaning being part of the same group) but in some ways it is this opposition that makes it interesting maybe we are all in a Tribe of not 'fitting in' and that is where and how we belong together

What is your next artistic project, and goals you would like to achieve?

Expanding the composition or sequence potentially creating works that read off each other like a continuous story or dialogue – with some viewer interpretation, of course, to keep the connection going.

In your opinion, what are the best ways for organisations like us to support artists?

Pay us!! …… just joking. By providing opportunities for exhibiting, and reaching new audiences, sponsorship, commissions etc. Difficult, I know, but any support and encouragement is appreciated.

See Sal's work on

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