The Panama Legacy – Behind the scenes with artist Quentin Jones

The Panama Legacy

To mark the auspicious launch of the Panama Collection, our brand new leather goods range, Smythson commissioned young British artist Quentin Jones to create a series of ten artworks.

Having worked on video collaborations with US Vogue and large scale artworks for stage backdrops at Glastonbury, Jones’ graphic, surrealist style offers a fresh, modern approach, which in conjunction with Smythson’s legacy, creates the perfect juxtaposition between traditional and contemporary.

Quentin Jones at work in her studio

Quentin Jones at work in her studio

The model, film-maker and artist uses mixed media and paper collage techniques, which she honed at Central Saint Martins College in London, to illustrate the relationship between ten individual high profile characters, from past and present, and their Panama diary. The list of subjects includes Hardy Amies, Sigmund Freud and Katharine Hepburn, through to contemporary influencers such as Waris Ahluwalia, Erdem, Bryan Ferry, Kylie Minogue, Jonathan Saunders, Laura Bailey and Dita Von Teese.

Artwork inspired by Katharine Hepburn

Artwork inspired by Katharine Hepburn

We caught up with Jones at the launch event during London Fashion Week to get the artist’s views on the collection:

Which of the paintings did you most enjoy creating? Did you feel a particular affinity with any of the subjects?

I found it really interesting thinking about Freud visually, because he is a man of ideas. A lot of the other subjects are known visually and have famous images of them, they are in the arts, but Freud was a philosopher. This was quite interesting for me as I studied philosophy at university and read a lot of Freud. I loved doing the Hardy Amies piece also, I liked deconstructing the face with letters in a really graphic way.

Artwork inspired by Sigmund Freud. Portrait courtesy of the Freud Museum, London.

Artwork inspired by Sigmund Freud. Portrait courtesy of the Freud Museum, London.

How long does it take to create each painting from research to the final piece?

The research takes quite a while, about 2 weeks, then the execution takes about 2 days. Altogether about 3 weeks including the research for each artwork.

What’s your favourite medium to work in?

I like the cutting, using old photos and paper, working with a scalpel and glue, it’s hands on and raw.  I really enjoyed working on these portraits in this medium, creating stills rather than print, it was a nice break and change of pace. I also like working with and editing moving images.

Papers and materials in Quentin's workspace

Papers and materials in Quentin’s workspace

What is your relationship with your Smythson Diary? When did you first start using them?

I’ve always loved the diaries and always give them to friends for birthdays. It’s the sort of thing you covet. Timeless pieces you give at key life moments and special rights of passage. I grew up knowing the brand really well,  growing up in London you do. It was really exciting to get to work with a brand with such a great history – one that is so classic in some ways, and to be able to bring a twist to it. It is such a pleasure for me to have been able to work with so much creative scope and freedom.

Line up of all ten Legacy artworks

Line up of all ten Legacy artworks

The official launch of the collection took place at London Fashion Week on Sunday 15th September. The artworks displayed at the New Bond Street store are exhibited alongside the brand new SS14 collection of bags and accessories. The exhibition opens to the public from Monday 16th September for a week.

Artwork inspired by Waris Ahluwalla

Artwork inspired by Waris Ahluwalla

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