Alun Leach-Jones (United Kingdom/Australia, 1937 — )
Merlin’s Diary no 1 1969
image 75 x 75 sheet 85 x 85 cms
UTS Art Collection
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Alun Leach-Jones was born in Maghull, England in 1937 and grew up in Wales. He studied at the Liverpool College of Art in 1955-57, and served National Service in the British Army 1958-59. After migrating to Australia in 1960 he settled in Adelaide and undertook further studies at the South Australian School of Art during 1960-63.
While primarily considered a painter, Leach-Jones studied printmaking in Adelaide and in the mid-1960s began an enduring screenprinting collaboration with Larry Rawlings. In later years Leach-Jones has also undertaken printmaking projects with several other printers and workshops, also producing etchings, woodcuts and lithographs.
Leach-Jones first came to prominence as part of the ‘New Abstraction’ with an exhibition of his Noumenon paintings at the Australian Galleries Melbourne in 1966. Although included in exhibitions with other artists working in Australia with colour and abstraction in the 1960s, Leach-Jones took his own path through the style – infused by a British Pop Art influence, in particular the work of artists such as Eduardo Paolozzi. Noumenon works were included in The Field, National Gallery of Victoria (1968) and the Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (1969).
The Noumenon series in its simplest form comprises a complex maze of irregular shapes contained in a circle that is in turn set into a square. This was an important motif for the artist, that he revisited many times over the next 20 years as he explored the idea of painting that was removed from outside influence. In the philosophy of Emmanuel Kant, the noumenon is the thing in itself (das Ding an sich), as opposed to phenomenon (the thing as it appears to an observer).
Merlin’s Diary follows the same formula, each print in the series a variation in colour, texture and shapes within the same basic construction. The title alludes to an alchemy between art and science, and a poetic turn that presages Leach-Jones’s later work that gradually took on a more organic, lyrical approach to abstraction.
Reflecting his long exhibition career Leach-Jones’ work is represented in several major international collections, including the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, National Museum of Wales, and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. In Australia his work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, most major state galleries, many regional and university galleries.