Sunday, 13 November 2016

JAGO STONE - NEWS OF AN OXFORD DISCOVERY AND AN APPEAL FOR MEMORIES

Jago Stone's story includes the one he told in his forties through the pages of an autobiography: 'The Burglar's Bedside Companion' (1975). I am now attempting as his biographer to provide another account, this time the story of the whole life from his birth in 1928 through to his death in 1988.

As you will know if you have read my website and my blogs, my research into the life of Jago Stone has been almost from the beginning an online search - a digital detective story. This blog is about one specific episode in this journey into cyber-space.

It was last month, in late October, that I opened the email with the title 'The Rollright Stones'. I knew not what to expect. This time the communication came from a fifteen year old student who had discovered my 'wonderful' website and interest in Jago from a google search and wanted to know the current market value of a Jago Stone painting and whether I knew of any likely buyers. He explained his grandparents had some of Jago's paintings and were happy to gift him one to sell to help raise money to send him on a one month adventure excursion to Peru.

An exchange of emails followed. I talked with granddad for twenty-five minutes over the phone, two days later. Mum and Dad changed their half-term holiday plans to drive their teenage son and younger brother all the way to Cornwall a week later to deliver to our house the five paintings we had been offered and bought. It turned out there was also a sixth painting that we also bought. This blog has images of three of them - a later blog will show the others.


The Old Wool Market, Chipping Campden by Jago Stone (1971)


Let me give you the drift of the phone conversation with granddad as from this I established the provenance of the paintings. Grandad, now aged eighty, had been an area manager for Ind Coope brewery with responsibility for the drinking places within central Oxford. His professional duties had




brought him in 1972 to the 'Chequers' public house in the High in Oxford shortly after a sale of Jago Stone paintings there had closed. He found there were still four paintings left unsold. He liked and bought them. He thinks from memory they were priced around £30.00 each. A fifth painting was then found and acquired at that point in 1972.

He did not meet Jago at that time. A sixth Jago painting from that period of the very early 70s - a painting of New College, Oxford - came into his possession when his wife, around the turn of  the century, discovered the work in the cellar of 'The Ampleforth Arms' in Oxford in the course of her professional work as a licensed victualler broker, making valuations of licensed premises. This particular painting - that might well  have been one of those in the original 1972 sale - had slight damage caused by water-staining.

Yew Tree Cottage, Bodicote, Oxon (1653) by Jago Stone (date illegible, but possibly1970)


Granddad did meet Jago once but not to talk to in depth when Jago stopped  for water for his car when the teenager's grandparents were living in a bungalow near Thame.

Louise and I really enjoyed the contact we had with three generations of the same family all of whom have been part of the Jago story and admirers of his art. The decision by grandparents to finance their grandson's Peruvian adventure by gifting him their collection of Jago's paintings for him to sell to us is a lovely act. We will be worthy stewards of this collection - and watch with interest the unfolding life story of a remarkable teenager who we now know through the legacy of Jago in his art.   

At the same time as I was exchanging emails with the teenager during that weekend, I received another email, this one with the title: 'Jago Update!' Remarkably, this one was from the States, from Dakota, and the sender had been stationed at Upper Heyford in the early eighties with her USAF husband. They knew Jago and he painted their house in the village where they were living. That painting is now on the wall of her Dakota home. We remain in email communication and I have learned more detail about Jago's life in the course of our correspondence. I - and Louise too - have experienced a brilliant upsurge in viewing figures for our blogs as news of the Donovan websites and blogs spreads out virally from Rapid City, Dakota.


The Rollright Stones by Jago Stone (1971) - the first painting Grandad gifted to his grandson and that I saw online 
 

So this seems a natural moment to make my appeal to anyone out there who remembers Jago, or has heard of him, to share their stories with me. I would love to use them as I shape the biography that will be a life history but very importantly also a tribute to a remarkable man. My website link is here with contact details. This enterprise, as I have said above and elsewhere, began and continues in large part as an online detective story. The more detail that comes my way, the fuller the final picture.