Here’s a short film Ellie made showing some older work
I’m Steffan. I’m a visual artist living in North Wales. I set up the Regional Print Centre at Yale College in Wrexham and have always had a day job. Most recently I was a Relationship Manager, Visual Arts for Arts Council England in Yorkshire and currently I’m Arts Manager in Wrexham.
(The comments and views expressed on this blog are personal and may not correspond to the views or policy of my employers)
For a full CV click here
I was brought up in a creative household. My parents both trained in Painting and Sculpture at the Royal College. I went to Farnham to do my degree and Manchester to complete my MA. I regularly visit museums and art galleries.
I am married to the artist Jeanette Orrell and we have two children.
I often get asked about my work and so I thought I’d put some of the answers to the questions I get asked the most.
Steffan Jones-Hughes, it’s Welsh.
2. Who or what has most influenced your work? Who is your favourite artist?
It’s a tricky one this because I’m interested in so many things… I get a lot of inspiration from my personal experiences. I draw people who are close to me, people I see every day, usually my family. I draw myself a lot too…in fact I probably draw me the most. I am really interested in seeing work that makes me view things differently, so when it comes to artists I like there are so many…I guess Paula Rego, Giotto, Piero Della Francesca, Ken Kiff, David Hockney, Marc Chagall, Louise Bourgeois, Rebecca Horn, Christian Boltanski, Roger Hilton, David Jones, Picasso. I also love early cinema such as Georges Melieres. I’m really interested in story telling so I like anything that has a sense of narrative. People have said that my work has something of William Blake about it. I’m really influenced by the narrative tradition and folklore of Wales. I was born in Wales, but have only lived here since 2002. I like the humour of Lancashire where I was brought up.
3. What does your art mean to you?
My work is so important to me. It is essential for my well-being. Although I’m really busy with lots of different things I have always continued to make drawings and prints and paintings.
4. Who normally buys your work?
I don’t necessarily make work to sell. I am always very connected to my work, it’s very personal but at the same time people seem to respond to the ideas. I have sold lots of work over the years and have even produced some commissions for Mid Pennine Arts, Wigan Borough Council, and Railtrack. I have work in public and private collections in China, Switzerland, Ireland, USA and across the UK. I like it when people respond to the work and feel they can get something out of looking at the work regularly. My sister was a student in Leeds and one night she went to babysit for a lawyer. She couldn’t believe it when there above the mantelpiece was one of my prints…she phoned me up to tell me. I’ve added a link here to a catalogue statement from Ruthin Craft Centre.
5. How much does your work sell for?
Well, like I said, I don’t do it to sell but I try to make things that cover a wide range of prices. I make badges, which sell for 75p (I sell a lot of those.), and my work goes up to many thousands (I don’t sell many of those!!)
6. Are there any interesting stories about you e.g past career, family connections, interesting home, famous collectors.
I designed T-shirts for a company in London, which sold all over the world. I had a number one best seller in Australia and Italy. I also did an exclusive image for Bloomingdales in New York. I’ve worked at the Tate Gallery too and once when I was teaching in Skelmersdale I asked a future Turner Prize nominee, Darren Almond, to come and talk to my students. My dad taught him at Wigan Art College. My mum and dad had me when they were both studying at the Royal College of Art in London. My mum took me into the studio in a cardboard box and so you could say I was taught by Hockney and Peter Blake! I’m married to the artist Jeanette Orrell and our home has been featured on Welsh House programme 04 Wal.
7. How did you get into art?
When I was growing up I was determined to be a vet or something but having a creative background I was destined to be an artist.
8. Please tell me about your career to date.
I graduated from West Surrey College of Art and Design in Farnham in 1989. I worked, teaching part time and in a record shop and as a T-shirt designer, travelled through Spain on a Johnson Wax bursary, awarded for the most outstanding student and then I then did an MA at Manchester. I’ve worked extensively in Schools, Colleges, Galleries, Museums. I’ve exhibited all over but have always tried to have a “mixed portfolio”. I also write and have done stuff for the Crafts Council, and Ruthin Craft Centre, Oriel Davies, a-n, Printmaking Today.
9. What did you do at the Regional Print Centre?
I was the co-ordinator. The Print Centre was set up in Wrexham in 2002. It is a joint partnership project between Yale College and The Arts Council of Wales. It provides open access facilities for artists and designers across Wales and beyond. I also organized events and workshops, collaborative projects and touring exhibitions.
10. Tell me about your fascination with birds?
It goes back to being a teenager and gazing out of my bedroom window and wishing I could be a bird, to have that sense of freedom. I also see them as a symbol of fragility. They are so delicate and in that way help me to look at myself. We are fragile too, we are easily broken. I also am interested in Hela Dryw Bach, a Welsh folk tradition called hunting the wren. The men of the village would try to capture a wren in a small house during the twelve days of Christmas. I am also interested in the idea of keeping birds in cages. This follows on from a previous obsession with Bell Jars. The bell seems to either trap or protect. The cage could hold the bird but if the door is left open the bird is free to come and go.
What’s the best night out you’ve ever had?
The Turner Prize at Baltic in 2012. It was fantastic! Such a great party.
If you have any other questions you would like answering please add a comment and I will try to answer it.