Wednesday 22 June 2016

Penrhos Care Home Mural

I’ve been away from my desk and out of the studio working at the “Polish Village” in Penrhos, North Wales this past week. This former RAF air base once served as a demobilization camp for Polish servicemen assigned to protect the base from German attack in 1940 and was later used to house Polish soldiers, sailors and airmen who chose to remain in the UK after World War II. Now owned by a charitable organisation founded to provide accommodation and support to Polish ex-service men and women the wooden barracks have since been replaced by purpose built buildings suitable for elderly people. Surrounded by nature it has a church, library, common rooms, shop, allotments and an old peoples home and that’s where I was last week painting a mural. Inspired by the surrounding grounds I painted this woodland scene (measuring around 176cm by 121cm) in one of the corridors featuring 11 woodland creatures for the residents to enjoy. It was great to be working on another nature based project, the mural seemed well received by both residents and staff I hope they enjoy it as much as I did creating it- my sincere thanks to everyone at Penrhos Care Home for the warm welcome.

The finished mural featuring 11 woodland creatures.
© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Saturday 18 June 2016

Quest for an Anteater

A recreation of the drawing I sent The Really Wild Show
back in 1986 created by my daughter Catrin Fon Jones.
Back in 2013 I visited Longleat Safari Park and was delighted to discover that they had Giant Anteaters there, having long been fascinated with these animals I was delighted to see them going about their day. Having always had this interest in wildlife I imagined what my 7-year-old self would have said on seeing those anteaters as I used to read about and draw anteaters all the time and recalled the time I wrote to The Really Wild Show. For those not in the know or need reminding The Really Wild Show was an award winning BBC nature series  for children that first aired in 1986 and was presented by Nicola Davies, Chris Packham and the late, great Terry Nutkins. I remember looking forward to this show each week, engrossed in the programme I absorbed the information like a sponge. The premise of the show was simple, Children would write in with animal related question and the presenters answered them. In some cases children would write in and ask if they could visit the studio and “meet” their favourite animal and that’s just what yours truly did, I wrote in asking if I could meet a Giant Anteater. Having memorised the address given at the end of each episode I dictated the letter to my father who wrote it out for me assuring correct grammar and spelling, I then copied out the letter in my very best handwriting. The letter was dominated however by a drawing I made of myself in the Really Wild Show studio with a Giant Anteater (as recreated here in this drawing made by daughter). Was the letter received or even actually delivered? We will never know, the answer remains lost forever in the mists of time, suffice to say I never got to meet an anteater but continued to enjoy the series all the same.

Chester Zoo, March 2015: My name can be seen on the
adoption plaque by the enclosure, but no Giant Anteaters though. 
Anyway… I digress! Seeing those Giant Anteaters reaffirmed my love of these animals, and having confessed my guilty pleasure of watching baby anteater clips on Youtube to my family I then adopted a Giant Anteater at my favourite zoo, Chester Zoo in 2015. There are over 100 animal species available for adoption and by doing this you not only support the animals at the zoo itself but also help fund their essential conservation work in the UK and around the world. I was really looking forward to meeting Pedro and Bliss who have been living at Chester Zoo since 2010 as part of an international breeding programme. The two made the headlines back in 2013 with the news of the birth of  their offspring (their first was born in 2011) which provided hope for this vulnerable species. Sadly my hopes of meeting them both were dashed however, I visited in March and with them being native to Central and South America apparently it was a too cold a day for them and they (unsurprisingly) stayed within their enclosure. I returned home disappointed having not seen hide not hair of them.
Chester Zoo, June 2016: At the enclosure again
and still no sigh of Pedro and Bliss.
I decided to try again this year and taking on the advice given I opted for a June visit this time, during what has been reported as Britain’s hottest spring heat wave in 170 years… nothing.
Several repeat trips to their enclosure throughout the day yielded no results. Once again I asked the staff about how one goes about actually seeing these elusive animals, it seems that the Chester Zoo anteaters are notoriously shy and will often retreat back into their enclosure if the noise level gets too high for them. Mrs Jones and I stood quietly to the side and kept our eyes peeled, nothing. So, for the second time running dear reader I returned home disappointed. I have been assured that they are in there though! Have you seen them? Are you a fellow adopter? Have you photographed them during your visit to Chester Zoo? If so let me know how they are getting on or what they have been up to in the comments section below. Feel free to leave links to your photos or tag me on facebook if you like as it would seem that this is the only way I will ever get to see them.

© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday 3 June 2016

From the Vaults: 2008 Sir Patrick Moore’s ‘Ancient Lights’

Although published a year before the creation of this site, it was mentioned briefly in a 2009 post devoted to published works. Sir Patrick originally wrote Ancient Lights when he was in his 20's but never got round to publishing it and it remained that way until Jeremy Rundel of STAR Distribution discovered the manuscript and took it on himself to publish it. I illustrated the cover working alongside Patrick who had a clear idea as to what he wanted. I would fax sketches to him at Farthings and he would call me back and let me know what changes he wanted. Patrick didn’t like the skull featuring on the cover and so requested a femur stick out of the ground instead! Here are those rough drafts and final artwork.

This adventure yarn set in a bygone era was then published by STAR-Distribution in a limited edition of only 500 each one serially numbered and only available through them. The book was officially launched at the Autographica 12 event at the Radisson Edwardian hotel in London in October 2008 with Patrick and myself in attendance.

© Arfon Jones 2009 - 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday 2 June 2016

From the Vaults: 1998 QVC Letter

Did I ever tell you that my work once featured on QVC? Specifically their Dynamic Forces segment? Well it was, as you can see from these shots taken from an old VHS recording from 1998. Back in the 1990’s Dynamic Forces, producers of limited edition and autographed memorabilia would run a monthly segment on QVC, hosted by Nick Barrucci. Each segment would run for at least an hour and being the huge comic book fan that I was/am I never missed a show. These segments satisfied my appetite for signed limited editions and glow-in-the dark covers! I would telephone my order in as Nick Barrucci, giddy with excitement told us how amazing the comic was and urged us to check it out for ourselves. As his co-presenters (with little to no knowledge of comics) tried to keep up with his enthusiasm smiling and providing the order numbers. One day I decided to write in and request a few signatures and as I wrote the letter I recalled Mr Barrucci mentioning that the Green Lantern was his favourite character, so I drew an (AWFUL) Hal Jordan cartoon (loosely copied from Batman: Mitefall) in the top left corner. I posted the letter and thought nothing more about it until the month after when to my utter surprised he showed my letter live on air! As usual they got my name wrong but my work was shown on QVC. Which was nice.

© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


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