A Hell of a Fight for the Last Piece of Pudding

Jock & John Mooney RSA
Drawings, Sculptures and Paintings

29 November 2014 - 10 January 2015

Whitecross Gallery welcomes you to enter the intriguing worlds of father and son duo, Jock and John Mooney. An opportunity not to be missed, they pitch their sculpture, drawings and paintings against each other for the first time in ‘A Hell of a Fight for the Last Piece of Pudding’.

Having inherited his father’s uncanny sense of the absurd, Jock Mooney constructs monumental installations from hoards of miniature figurines and oddball characters with dislocated limbs, alongside other bizarre objects such as Flintstones inspired wreaths littered with bones and fried eggs - effigies of political, historical, mythical and religious figures. The sheer scale of these installations is jaw dropping, considering that each piece is individually sculpted from a plastic modelling compound and hand painted in high gloss. His latest development of ‘Discontinued’, an evolving sandcastle, or cardboard city, is a carnivalesque horror show that raises a mirror to our superficial world in all of its glory. Junk food, pop icons, chavs and upper class toffs – we’re all up for grabs here, and he takes no prisoners.

Perched defiantly on a shelf towards the rear of the gallery is a new series of vibrant busts which were commissioned exclusively for the exhibition. With deadpan expressions and hilariously exaggerated protruberances, they wave a satirical finger at the traditional sculptural portrait, or even figurative ceramic at the kitsch end of the cultural spectrum.

Referencing an odd mix of pop art, cartoons, nursery rhymes and traditional eighteenth century illustrations, Jock’s drawings are equally uncompromising, as stray fingers dance with severed heads, and join the parade of disturbingly cutesy, mismatched personalities, all striving for their moment of fame.

Jock’s father, John Mooney is a long time member of ‘The Royal Scottish Academy of Painters’. His sizable watercolours depict strange imaginary wooden sculptures, reversed text, backdrops and set pieces - all conveying puzzling and provocative comments laced with irony. His intricate and precise style combines a velvety rich colour palate with painstaking attention to detail that is as beautiful as it is mysterious.

Various permutations of performance and theatrical sets underpin the work of both artists, shining the spotlight on reality, with a playful, tongue in cheek approach. There is no pretence or apologetic politeness here; instead we are presented with an eclectic, unashamedly alternative view of the world. Both artists assert true lateral thinking, both are subversive in unique ways. While Jock's sculptures and drawings may differ stylistically from the paintings of his father, they share the same imaginative manipulation of materials, labour intensity, and similarly quirky outlook that is understated and endearing.
Only time will tell as to which of them will take the cake.

The multitalented Jock, who is also a performance artist and musician, will be offering viewers a rare treat by showcasing his collaboration with animator/director Alasdair Brotherston on a music video made for the band ‘Tom Fun Orchestra’. Jock’s own band, ‘Twentymen’ mainly perform around the Newcastle area, where he was based before moving to London earlier this year.

Since graduating from the Edinburgh College of Art, Jock Mooney has shown extensively around the world, having participated in international art fairs, and group exhibitions at venues such as the Royal Academy, Hales Gallery, Bearspace, and recently ‘The Future Can Wait’ at the Truman Brewery. He has had solo shows in Newcastle, Sweden, London and Lithuania, and is represented by Vane Gallery in Newcastle. His works form part of numerous private collections in Scotland, Newcastle, London, New York and Sweden.

Scottish born John Mooney has recently retired from teaching in Scotland, where he still resides. He has won countless scholarships and awards, and is a committee member of organisations such as the ‘Society of Scottish Artists’. He has exhibited extensively in Scotland, and has participated in group exhibitions further a field in Helsinki, London and Poland. His works reside in public and private collections including Contemporary Art Society, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Scottish Arts Council and Dundee Art Gallery.


"No written account could give the full flavour of the delicacy of John Mooney's wit and humour and the richness and variety of his painting, always executed with exquisite care. The best part of a joke is in the telling."

Duncan Macmillan (author of ‘Scottish Art 1460 – 2000)

"If Jock Mooney’s work were simply a sour expulsion of bile, superior snapshots of other people’s hell, it would be unremittingly grim, like being accosted by a bellicose drunk on a night bus home. Fortunately, the humour that riddles his work saves it from hectoring hollowness. Like carnival humour, there’s a sense of a twisted community of desperation, defiantly asserting its right not to be squashed by the banal horror of our ‘Ikea society’."

John Beagles (Beagles and Ramsey)