Monday, 12 December 2016

JAGO STONE - THE AMERICAN CONNECTION

When my biography of the artist, Jago Stone (1928-88) is published in 2018, you'll be able to follow in detail the story of my online search for his life story. This blog - with its American focus - begins with the tale of an American lady - Rebecca Bender from Rapid City in South Dakota - who made her own online search for more detail about the life of Jago one afternoon last October. We google in a bid to add more meaning to our lives. Sometimes, it pays off - bigtime. Actually, what comes to mind is the image of striking gold - and that is wonderfully apt because Becky is the daughter of a Black Hills gold-mining operative from Lead, her late husband Don who died in 2009 was also the son of a gold miner from Lead, and her partner, Gene, has family roots that stretch back from Lead all the way across the Atlantic to the SW tip of the British Isles where this blog is being composed - to Cornwall. 

Becky and Don married in 1971. For four years - in the late 1970s and early 80s - Don was stationed at Upper Heyford, a USAF base in Oxfordshire, He and Becky lived in a detached bungalow in the village of Bloxham nearby. Their rented property had already been named 'Andsu' after the two children in their landlords' family. Becky, as a USAF officer's wife, became part of the officers' wives luncheon and function circuit that connected to others not just within Upper Heyford but also across at Lakenheath and Mildenhall in East Anglia (where we lived before moving to Cornwall). Two artists, Reg Siler and Jago Stone, and their paintings became a subject of conversation at these gatherings.

'Andsu' by Jago Stone - dated 1983


Last October, Becky was dusting the paintings that hang on a memory wall in her home. Several paintings by Reg Siler, the itinerant artist who painted the homes of Americans serving with the USAF in England (alas! - google is telling me nothing more about Reg Siler). And a picture of Becky and Don's home in Bloxham - 'Andsu' - painted by Jago Stone, the other itinerant artist. Becky and Don had met Jago.

So Becky decided to google Jago Stone's name, just as we had for the first time back in the late-




noughties, around 2008. And came up with my name as the biographer - and an email  followed forthwith. From that first exchange of emails, others have followed. More details of Jago's life have emerged and Louise and I have discovered in Becky a lovely like-minded friend. Thank you, Becky and Gene, for sending the picture of the painting of 'Andsu' - and for helping us widen the search for memories of Jago. The viewing figures for our websites and blogs have soared because of this American connection and I'm now setting up with Steve McIntosh, our website-designer, a 'Page for America'. And also thank you Becky for giving permission to use your name and the picture of the painting and your stories in this blog and in the biography. 

The American connection began with Becky in Rapid City. The focus now moves further eastwards to the state of Washington and the city of Seattle. The Jago Stone American connection is  - at the present count - two-fold.  And this last connection came as  a result of my decision to put aside my objections to Facebook and sign up to membership. I did so - in November, last month - for political reasons. Momentum communicates using social media. A good move for me, politically - and with unexpected but brilliant consequences for the cyber search for details of Jago's life-story.

On the third day of  my Facebook life, I had a Facebook Friend request from a guy called John Adamski in the States who ran a business connected with what I assumed was the fish food industry - Trident Sea Foods. Did I accept a request from a stranger? I took a deep breath and pressed the 'confirm' button. But straightaway, I commented: 'Who are you? What's our connection?'
John replied, 'I  was going to ask you the same question.'
I responded back, 'Is it a Jago Stone link?'
It was.

Over the course of the Facebook correspondence that followed, I learned that John Michael Adamski's father was John "Adam" Adamski, a USAF Lt. Colonel (retired). John Michael's late mother had been the driving force behind collecting art, antiques, and decorating the home. When John "Adam" Adamski had been serving at Upper Heyford, Jago had been commissioned to paint. Several Jago Stone works had been brought back across the Atlantic and still graced John "Adam" Adamski's home. His son promised to send me pictures. Seventeen photos duly followed.

Thank you so much, John Michael and  John "Adam", for your kindness and interest. I hope you enjoy this blog and the pictures and the story. As the Latin tag has it, "Sine Qua Non". And again, thank you for your permissions.

Several of the seventeen photos related to an original painting of which I already had some knowledge through my google searches. I had discovered a WikiLeaks release of a document from the Public Library of US Diplomacy that revealed how, in March 1976, a painting of Sulgrave Manor - the ancestral home of George Washington - had been presented by 'prime contact embassy air attache'. The painting was 'now - (August 26 , 17.16 (Thursday) 1976) - being packed and forwarded White House ASAP'.  'Suggested text acknowledgement: "Dear Mr. Stone, I write on behalf of  the President to express thanks for  the beautiful water colour of Sulgrave Manor you very kindly presented at the ceremony in London last March ... We greatly appreciate this gesture of goodwill to the United States in our bicentennial  year'. Jago knew a thing or two about how to market his talent.

'Sulgrave Manor' by Jago Stone, dated 1976


Above is a copy of that painting from John Adamski's collection. . Of course, I'll be finding out if I can whether the original is still in the White House. And here below are details from the wording on the bottom left of the painting.

Detail from the written inscription on the painting of 'Sulgrave Manor' by Jago Stone



More details confirming that the first of these pictures was hung in the White House, Washington 
























I'll leave the other pictures for another blog when I have an answer to a couple more questions about provenance. I hope you have enjoyed this as a taster!

And please, as ever, if you have memories of Jago do share them. What I am writing is shaped by a genuine respect for this man I never met in the flesh but whose life story I want to make more widely known.