For his second solo show at the Ceri Hand Gallery in Liverpool from 14 January to 19 March, Doug Jones has constructed four rooms inspired by a British Bed and Breakfast; the reception, the breakfast room, the guest’s bedroom and the private ‘back room’ of the female proprietor.
The rooms are a curious portrait of both the owner - a woman whose morals, desires and aspirations haunt the objects on display - and the guests who choose to fleetingly inhabit this woman’s world.
A jamboree of peculiar curios, photographs and home-made ornaments -from embellished, colour-coded room keys, to hand-stitched table cloths, fur coats and bedding – the rooms convey a unique personal identity and selling point for a fading business. This obsession with detail, outmoded crafts and over-use of decorative trimmings creates a bizarre safe-house for the overlooked and undervalued.
A strange mix of needlepoints adorn the breakfast room walls, reflecting loss-leading labour and a fear of the ever-changing, contemporary world. For example Men at Work 2010, portrays a romantic farming scene with a red warning triangle disrupting the image of a farmer, lifting hay with a pitch fork. It highlights the dangers of over-romanticising the past and fixes him in the narrative of a declining industry.
The perils of work and leisure, a divided society and systems of control are alluded to throughout the B & B. Health and safety signs and symbols shatter the illusion of the home-away-from home; reflective tape edges an Afghan rug; a yellow high-visibility jacket is enhanced with a cartoon of a Royal horse’s head and forms part of a ‘shrine’; a tapestry of a Running Man Fire Exit sign forms a bedside table top, all suggesting the self-imposed rules we choose to live by and the potential for comfort to become confining.
Abstractio a Prestituto Cursu, (Deviation from the Plan), 2010, is an intricate quilt the landlady made for the guest’s room, which incorporates an embroidered outline of an architectural plan and three Latin sentences: Argumentum ad crumenam (An appeal based on wealth), Argumentum ad absurdum (An appeal based on absurdity), Argumentum ad Captandum (An appeal based on popular passions). The architectural map is a pastiche of different buildings - a prison, a museum, a shopping centre - and aptly reflects on the rules and regulations played out in public and private domains. The use of Latin, a fading language, is a recurring motif in Jones’ work, which serves to remind us of the power of language, education, wealth and class in shaping, defining and controlling us.
Through this witty yet melancholic installation, Jones ensures we are reminded that the home, as a microcosm of society, is not a democratic place.