Therapy for the soul – Art and Ed Jones

Posted By:
Southern Regional College

9th Dec 2022

It’s not every day a Portadown man takes over an art gallery with his sole exhibition, but that’s exactly what Ed Jones has done! This December, until 3 January 2023 Ed is displaying his unique style of watercolour painting at The Flax Gallery, Theatre at the Mill in Newtownabbey.  Newtownabbey is not by coincidence either, it’s where Ed worked during his placement year at University.

A graphic designer by profession Ed has not always been a painter.  During his early life and throughout school, Ed dabbled in painting until the day job consumed him.  During this part of his career Ed lived and breathed graphic design.  It wasn’t until Ed needed another focus, that he took up painting again in 2015, after a fifteen-year gap to provide relaxation from a hectic work life.  With encouragement from his wife, Ed started doodling and painting once more.

Covid ironically provided Ed with opportunities.  He jumped at the chance of voluntary redundancy and took this time to reset and recharge before exploring job opportunities in education. Ed now works in Southern Regional College within the Project Based Learning (PBL) team in Armagh.  A team dedicated to providing students with real life project collaborations with businesses.  Students under the guidance of PBL staff, take a business project from the preliminary stages of planning and investigation through to development and evaluation.

The art exhibition is not by chance either.  It’s been a full year since Ed received the news that he would be featuring solely in an exhibition.  So why watercolour?  Watercolour is a hard medium to master.  Ed admits he is a ‘sucker for punishment’, and not afraid of taking on a challenge.  Watercolour is notoriously hard to work with, with mistakes evident if the hand slips.  Ed’s painting style is challenging.  Instead of every detail being obvious Ed prefers to take a softer, looser, impressionist style.  Ed’s exhibition focuses on rural scenes from his upbringing near Newtownhamilton.

Ed finds art is like therapy, with the ability to pick it up and drop it when it suits.  He paints to suit himself but will take on commissions time permitting.  Painting provides Ed with quality time with his children, especially his daughter who likes to paint alongside him. With a busy day job, Ed finely balances his enthusiasm for working with students alongside painting.  Ed enjoys training people up, from his daughter to students at the College.  Students give plenty of feedback and the variety of work in the PBL team provides plenty of stimulation.  To inspire students, Ed and the PBL team, bring in entrepreneurs to talk with students.  External speakers have included drivers from BMW’s junior racing team to Angus Wilson from Wilson’s Potatoes.

When asked where he would like to see himself in 5 year’s time, Ed’s not sure.  He is happy with the now and here, working in the PBL team and alongside students.  ‘Continuing with Art on the side would also be nice!’

The exhibition is now open for all to visit for free.  Children can participate in their own art projects, with colouring in sheets available at the theatre to provide encouragement for future budding artists!  Check out the exhibition or visit Ed’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/edjonesart.

 Ed Jones, commented:

“Painting isn’t my job.  It’s where I go to switch off, de-stress.  It’s something I love.”

Lynne Ervine, Technology Enhanced Learning and Project Based Learning Manager at Southern Regional College commented:

“Ed is an extremely talented artist and we are immensely proud of his achievement. Along with his artistic ability he has a vast skillset and wealth of experience which he uses to effectively support our students”.