Saturday 13 April 2019


In this blog-post I am using material that I have already published in my April Mailchimp newsletter about the research into the life of Jago Stone and his forthcoming biography. If you have already seem much of this, please enjoy a second view; for those of you coming to this story and these images for the first time, I hope you feel as delighted as I was when all this was gifted to me through cyberspace. Many of you will be American and have RAF/USAF Upper Heyford connections. I am sure you, in particular, will appreciate Jago's close connections with the base.

Here is the relevant text from this month's newsletter:

In this Mailchimp edition, I am pleased to share a tale and images that first came my way through cyberspace on Monday, March 18, this month. 

Untitled - Jago Stone (1980)

Hollie Hetz from Virginia emailed me this message:

'Good morning,

I am messaging you because I picked up a painting by Jago Stone at a thrift shop the other day. I thought since you authored a biography about him you may have information or at least be interested in seeing some photos.

It is lovely. I teach art and some days call myself an artist. I spotted the painting on a shelf under some random stuff. It had been removed from the frame but has a sticker on the back stating that it had been framed by Huntleys at New Street, Deddington. 

Anyway, if you have any information about this work I would love to know more. Thank you for your time.

Hollie Hetz'

And Hollie had sent me eight images of this single painting. There they were, underneath her message, waiting for me to download and enlarge - and discover more. Perhaps you can imagine the thrill of being 

a cyberspace detective! Even at this initial stage, I could see that this watercolour was unlike any other Jago Stone artwork that I had seen before. The subject-matter - a theatre - had no parallels that I had encountered.

The date is interesting. I have seen very little artwork of Jago's that is dated around the turn of the decade. It seems he was not his prolific self in these years.

Jago Stone (1980)

The detail is fascinating. The RAF Upper Heyford connection is evident in the milestone with its distance of 67 and a half miles - or is it 87 and a half miles? I've checked online and Google says it's 67 miles the shortest way. The reference to the painting being commissioned by 'Wing Weapons - for Laura - with best wishes' is intriguing. Does 'Wing Weapons' refer to a specific unit within the United States Air Force (USAF) who were based at Upper Heyford during this Cold War period? Any help in solving the puzzle most welcome, please.  

Inscription from Jago Stone (1980)

Detail from Jago Stone (1980)

And the star of the show - Jago's 'My Fair Lady': Laura Jensen - who was she? Perhaps someone reading this newsletter may shed light on the mystery; perhaps we don't need to know more. I shared Hollie's email and images with Merlin Porter, the Oxford artist and youngest son of Jago Stone. His response was illuminating:

'This is fab. Very similar to the missing painting from my childhood Jago did for my Mum (Maggie) but that one was a night scene and the shop said Maggies! Haha. Deddington (the location of the framers) is also very close to Banbury of course.' 

Detail from Jago Stone (1980)

The feel of London theatreland is wonderfully captured in the movement and position of the cars, the crowded CafĂ© Royal and foyer of the Hippodrome, and the billboards and signs.  
This is such a fine discovery - and yet further testimony to the power of cyberspace detection. Thank you, Hollie, for having the eagle eye in the first instance and then gifting me the story and images - and for your permission to use the material in this Newsletter and in posts.  

The rediscovery of the life and work of Jago Stone is a collaborative enterprise. Any further contributions are always welcome.

As a footnote, I should point out that the original production of 'My Fair Lady' ran for 2,281 performances in the five years from 1958 in The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. The show had a revival in 1979 through a Cameron Mackintosh production at the Adelphi Theatre. It never featured at the Hippodrome Theatre whose address was in Charing Cross Road. The Hippodrome's interior had been demolished in 1958 and the building converted into a night club - 'The Talk of the Town' - under the direction of the impresario, Bernard Delfont. Nevertheless, the term 'hippodrome' applies generically to any place of entertainment - and Jago was an artist, not an historian.'

Hollie's gift to me - and you - of her story of the finding of the painting and the sharing of its images is much appreciated. Who knows when and where the next discovery will be in this online detective story. I am a very grateful beneficiary of these chance offerings. 

No comments:

Post a Comment