Painting & Printmaking School of Fine Art

Iona Jones


‘In the world of fairy tales, the world transforms. Human’s fly. Things talk. In a fairy-tale as in cuisine, materiality transforms. Like turning water, salt, yeast, and flour into delectable bread. Like turning your son into a hearty soup.’ Carol Mavor,  Aurelia: Art and Literature Through the Mouth of the Fairytale, 2017.

Within my current work, fairy tales are intrinsic. A vital element of a fairy tale is transformation. The rules of logic do not apply. Enchanted objects have a personality of their own; animals wear clothes and can talk, and everything is transient and can change at any moment. Metamorphosis happens from human to animal and vice-versa, sometimes with characters caught somewhere in the middle. My practice has become an investigation of the world around me through an enchanted lens, using making as an exploratory process. I have discovered that the critical part of what interests me about these works is the ‘magic’ moment when something first surprises the viewer, for example, when an inanimate object moves, speaks or bleeds. This cements the audience as part of the exchange; they witness something extraordinary, and now the narrative is rooted in what they have seen. By looking at the animal, I want to examine what it means to be human and convey the vast array of emotions that come with this, exaggerated like the melodrama of the theatre or pantomime; nostalgia, pleasure, shame, grief, temptation, unease, terror and the ridiculous. My narratives have become fractured, reflecting the illogical nature of real life.

My work has always been a way to digest, process and communicate information. After the recent loss of my father, I have found myself recreating a lot of the traumatic imagery that surrounds hospitals and death. These moments of reality have seeped into otherworldly scenes I make. ‘The Dying Swan’ is the culmination of this. Fairy tales, at their core, act as emotional clarifiers for human experiences, investigating things such as disgust, desire, fear, change, life and death. Francesca Gavin addresses the need for darkness in her book Hellbound; ‘Exploring dark imagery or ideas in art arguably helps to create a sense of control in a world where we have none.’ 

Swan Song, 2024

Swan Song, 2024

Swan Song, 2024

“swan song: (noun)
1: a song of great sweetness said to be sung by a dying swan
2: a farewell appearance or final act or pronouncement” Miriam Webster Dictionary

Swan Song is an installation which contains several kinetic sculptures, each a fragmented part of an individual narrative. The pieces work in conjunction to collectively become plot devices in telling a new story.

The Dying Swan, 2024

Life-Size swan in a cage. Bleeds five litres of blood through IV drip when performing in the degree show. Approx. 182 cm high. Down feathers, IV drip, wire, paper mache, latex, cardboard, duct tape, glass eyes, varnish, steel, wood, velvet, ribbon, paint, glitter, blood, mould.

Big Cat, 2024

Big Cat is an automaton life-size anthropomorphic cat sculpture which is installed on an office desk with a chair. The sculpture is activated by the viewer and moves by pulling chains. Approx.105x45x100cm. Foam clay, paper mache, wood, found clothes, paint, latex, fur, wire, varnish, nail extensions.

Mr Wolf, 2024

Mr Wolf is a wall installed wolf which dribbles into a dog bowl on the floor. Approx. 50 cm long. Foam clay, paper mache, wood, found clothes, paint, latex, fur, wire, varnish, glass eyes, dentures.

Wooly Leg, 2024

Wooly Leg is a life-size movable jointed wooly leg sculpture wearing a lace sock and red high-heeled shoe. The sculpture is wall installed and the movement is operated by pulling a chain. Approx. 40cm. Paper mache, sheep’s wool, paint, wire, latex, lace, glue, varnish, butcher’s twine, chain, padlock.

The Dying Swan performs.

Miss Piggy, 2024

Miss Piggy is a motorised kinetic sculpture which spins constantly within a mirrored wooden box. The sculpture is a head with two faces, one of a disheveled looking women, and the other a contented pig. Approx. 69x48x46cm. Foam clay, wood, motor, paint, glitter, latex, glue, mirrors, glass eyes, synthetic hair, nail varnish, rhinestones, fake eyelashes, varnish, reflections.

Woof, 2024

Woof is a film which explores the meaning of life. Runtime: 2 minutes 19 seconds. Found footage from Woof tv show, documentation of performance sculpture animatronic wolf.

The Dying Swan, (video), 2024.

The Dying Swan is a film piece documenting a performative sculpture. The piece shows the final moments of a swans life as it bleeds to death. Runtime 3 minutes and 7 seconds. Foam clay, down feathers, paint, varnish, velvet, cardboard, rubber tube, blood, glitter.

My Funny Valentine, 2024

My Funny Valentine is a found footage compiled video piece exploring transformation.