Try the Wilderness First: Eric Gill and David Jones at Capel-y-Ffin

Jonathan Miles
Publication Date: 
Monday, April 2, 2018
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‘Miles’s appraisal of Jones’s paintings is not only eloquent, but refreshing... I would recommend this eminently readable book.’
Art Unit

‘Well researched and thoughtful. This book deserves to be read and considered by every admirer of David Jones, as well as by every admirer of Eric Gill.’
PN Review


Try the Wilderness First: Eric Gill and David Jones at Capel-y-ffin is the only study devoted to controversial artist Eric Gill’s artistic and religious community in the Black Mountains of Wales during the 1920s, told through the character and work of Gill himself and David Jones, two of Britain’s most significant twentieth century artists.

Capel-y-Ffin was a continuation of Gill’s craft community at Ditchling in Sussex, but in the far more remote and dramatic surroundings of the Black Mountains in Wales. At the former monastery which the community occupied, Gill’s seemingly conflicting mix of growing personal libertinism and developing spirituality developed away from the distractions of the modern world.

For Jones, the four years of the community in Capel-y-ffin was an affirmation of his Welsh heritage and his Catholicism. It offered escape from his wartime experiences and a cultural homecoming, and it was among the most productive periods of his career, with numerous paintings and engravings inspired by the surrounding landscape. It was also the place where he fell in and out of love with Gill’s daughter, Petra. Significantly he never lived in Wales again, and became a confirmed bachelor.

Jonathan Miles explores the influences of place, culture and religion on artistic practice and investigates the effect of the Black Mountains and of the Gill’s community on the work of these two important British artists, both at the time and in the future. This new edition includes additional illustrations and a refreshed view of its subject in the light of new information about Gill and Jones, while also retaining its page-turning accessibility.

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