Jonathan Michael Ray (né Jonathan Haydock)
Married to Hannah Ray
Lives and works Cornwall and London, England
b. High Wycombe, England 1984
Jonathan studied a BA Hons in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University and subsequently an MFA in Fine Art Media at Slade School of Fine Art, London. He was artist in residence at HKBU, Hong Kong, in 2016 and he has been awarded the Porthmeor Graduate Workspace supported by the European Regional Development Fund, via Cultivator, 2018-19.
Currently he is artist in residence in Lisbon, Portugal, at Third Base Studios.
Informed by the act of looking, Jonathan Michael Ray’s art practice largely comprises of works in video, photography, installation, print and drawing.
The work he makes has always been contingent upon, and deeply connected to his surroundings, and he continuously references landscape and how we encounter and engage with the world around us.
He is interested in looking beyond what we look for when we look, by breaking down the processes by which we see, and addressing the tools and language we use to make sense of our visual existence.
In Aldous Huxley’s essay “The Doors of Perception”, he becomes fixated on the creases in his trousers, “those folds in the trousers – what a labyrinth of endlessly significant complexity!”
And in the short story by Jorges Luis Borges “The Aleph”, at the moment the protagonist carefully focuses on a single point in space he can see all things, in all time, from every angle, all at once.
I like to take the time to look at everything equally, and indeed more so at the things that don’t seem to deserve our attention. It in these moments I discover and create meaningful connections.
I see all objects, environments and places as imbued with memory and time, but I’m especially drawn to those which seem to have lost their exact meaning, either because they are no longer able to communicate it or we are simply no longer able to read it.
I’m drawn towards landscapes, spaces and objects of lost memory or that appear to have had their meaning fragmented, and through my work I create my own narrative or understanding of them, linking together or bringing to the forefront what I deem essential or wish to convey.
Sometimes it is important to point towards the fragment itself, and sometimes the process to which is has become lost; bricks washed up along the banks of the Thames, an overgrown garden, names scratched into a cliff face, a wall in disrepair, a smashed phone screen, an orphaned playing card, plastic bags caught up in the branches of a tree, the inability to remember everything I have ever seen.
Botanical illustrations are always of the perfect specimen, but I’m more interested in the imperfect. The imperfect better represents the world around us, a world of the “unbeautiful,” which (when you begin to focus) is, in fact, just as beautiful and fascinating than anything else.