Catalogue essay by curator Barbara Dowse

Publication: Claude Jones: Recent Works, 2010


The surreal, winged sculptures, and meticulous fine-lined drawings and collages of Claude Jones expose a vision of a Frankenstein-like mingling of species.

The surgical cutting and inserting of parts, the experimental mixing of the animal, the plant and the human in her works reflects our changing genetic and psychological relationship with nature. In the face of research and experimentation in the world of biotechnology her poignant and provocative works reveal a version of an increasingly possible reality of cloned and ‘designer’ beings to order.

The impact for future species and mankind and the plight and toll on animals used for experiments underpins all these works. The concept of these potential peculiar biologies and the creation of hybrid and mutant creatures has been her focus since 2002, with exhibition titles like Mutation & Imagination, Hybrid states, Hybridism, Creature Couples and Strange Things.

With a series of large sardonic and compelling narrative drawings and thought provoking taxidermic sculptures for her 2010 solo exhibition, Taxonomy, she again turned the spotlight as well as the tables, on science’s escalating push for homogenisation of species, and in particular on man’s double standards in the way animals are categorized and treated.

Taxonomy is the science of classification and is the system applied to organizing living things into species. Claude Jones is questioning the schizoid taxonomic approach we take with animals; at Christmas we buy the dog a present, but the pig and turkey are eaten at lunch.

In the spirit of animal rights activism and with poignant role reversal, in these provocative metre square works on paper and series of sculptures, dog and monkey-faced humanoids wield scalpels and guns, specimen jars and steel bars confine taunted cat and monkey mutants and trouser-suited hares are suspended from meat hooks. The wallpaper background is patterned with animal traps.

Distressing as the subject is, the artist cleverly renders the works in the way of storybook illustrations. The delicacy of drawing and the beautiful soft colours and child-like fairytale guise of these works potently enhances the grim impact and the reality of man’s perplexing duplicity.

Barbara Dowse