Remembering Sudbourne Park Printmakers founder Gareth Jones

Gareth Jones 1944 – 2021
Much-missed founder of Sudbourne Park Printmakers

Painter/printmaker Gareth Jones, the founder of Sudbourne Park Printmakers, grew up in Suffolk. His childhood holidays were spent in West Wales, where his parents originated. Gareth developed a lasting affection for the two very different environments – the open skies and wide, flat landscapes of Suffolk, the sheltered beaches, rocky coves and mountains of Wales – both reflected in the prints and paintings he produced throughout his life.

When Gareth was 15 he went to Ipswich School of Art. Here, under the influence of inspirational teacher and printmaker Gerald Woods, he developed his passion for printmaking and for printing presses. He soon began to  produce highly individual, experimental work and by the age of 18 he had had two paintings exhibited in the Royal Academy Summer show.

Leaving Art School in 1965 he pursued a successful career as a technician at Loughborough College of Art, the Slade School of Fine Art, Watford College of Art and then at the Gloucestershire College of Art and Design where he stayed for seven years. During this time he continued to produce and exhibit his own work locally and in London.

He became a member of the Printmakers’ Council and exhibited alongside Gross, Trevelyn, Rothenstein and Ackroyd in the Zemmer Gallery, London and in the AAA Gallery, New York. He was also represented at the First Internationale Print Biennale in Bradford, one of the judges being David Hockney.

He also hunted down and  acquired a number of old printing presses and it was the need to accommodate them that took him and his wife Vicky, also an artist, to the old Dreifa Mill, in Wales, in 1974. Here, and later at Pigeonsford, an old country house, they raised a family and ran printmaking courses for several years, combined with teaching at Carmarthen College of Art for Gareth and Cardigan Secondary School for Vicky.

After ten years they decided to take their family back to Gareth’s roots in Suffolk, making a new home in Park Farm House, Ufford. Vicky took a teaching post at Woodbridge School, later  becoming Head of Art there. Gareth, having installed his two presses and all his printmaking equipment in the converted cart lodge, advertised printmaking courses. The first eager students who turned up soon formed the Ufford Print Group. Some of these talented individuals were still members after 30 years, still with Gareth at the helm.

The move to Sudbourne came about because Gareth and Vicky decided to downsize and the print group needed a new home. It was group member, the late Michael Flint, who identified The Bothy, an old apple store at Sudbourne Park, as being available for rent – with a solid brick floor for the presses and just the right size. All the current members agreed to contribute to the additional costs of leasing space so that Gareth could continue to run the workshop using his presses and equipment. The money was raised, repairs and renovations were carried out. The Ufford Group officially became Sudbourne Park Printmakers, with eleven members.

It was a success story from the start. New members joined, two-day workshops were started, the space was expanded, successful exhibitions were held.

Gareth continued in his role of inspirational teacher and supervising technician until, after a period of declining health, he died in 2021. His presses are still in daily use; the group he founded is now self-regulating and continues to thrive with over thirty members and a full programme of workshops and exhibitions, it’s members producing and selling work in many venues.

His legacy lives on, and will continue to do so, giving artist printmakers a unique opportunity to make and show their work.

Eve Hostettler 2023