Artist Simon Williams

Simon Williams

Artist from United Kingdom

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About the artist Simon Williams

JakBox is the brainchild of Simon Williams. Born in a Camden coffee shop in 2013, it functions as a “creative lab”. The ideas tested there have been accumulated over more than three decades, from the years of Simon’s architecture studies, which saw his foray into experimental performance art and award-winning pavement art, to his development and management of the long-established and highly respected graphic design studio, Feast Creative. JakBox’s first four years have been very productive. Many ideas have been mixed in the experimental pots and different processes tested. Each strand of work has had its own identity, defined by the process which has formed it; all have shared the mission of bringing to the world at large the ability to see what is all around them, but rarely noticed. It seems that nothing which exists in time and space is exempt from his curious examination, scrutiny and entertaining representation. Some of the presentations are brave, none is boring; some are thought-provoking or disturbing, none is without impact on the viewer. The outcomes of Simon’s experiments with process are often, completely accidentally, quite beautiful; all are intriguing. Similarly joyful are the products of his curiosity and adventurous use of the most unlikely materials. In JakBox, he is establishing his home in the art world.

  • Community member since August 10th, 2018
  • Kind of fine art:PaintingSculpture


JAKBOX ONE/TWO 30 NOVEMBER - 8 DECEMBER 2017 JakBox One/Two is the second major exhibition of Simon’s work. As the name suggests, it will be presented in two stages. Jakbox One opens at the end of the month and JakBox Two will take place early in the New Year. Private View 29.11.17 / 18:30 - 21:00 Exhibtion open 30th November until 8 December 2017 Tuesday - Friday 11am - 6pm Saturday 11am - 4pm EXHIBITION: POINT OF VIEW 2 OCTOBER 2016 On Friday 2nd October, JakBox's Points of View Exhibition opened at Leyas on Camden High Street. The exhibition showcases a selection of photographs taken by both JakBox and the public at different points of view, presenting an intriguing insight into the urban landscape in flux. The show will grow with more images added regularly, creating not only an expanding archive of the project, but also of the life of the area. For the chance to have your photograph exhibited, get involved at! The exhibition was curated by Outwalls, and is on until the end of November, so make sure you go and take a look! Leyas, 20 Camden High St, London NW1 0JH EXHIBITION MEWS 2 | ROUTE 30 SEPTEMBER 2016 We're very happy to annonce that MEWS #2, the second in a series of group shows in our exciting art space in Camden, the JakBox Studio, is opening in October! MEWS #2: ROUTES EXHIBITION OPEN: 1 - 3RD OCTOBER, 11.00 - 17.00 PRIVATE VIEW: 30TH SEPTEMBER, 18.30 - 21.00


Simon had already accepted his place to study architecture at Liverpool University, when he decided he could squeeze in a Foundation Course at Worthing Art College. While at Worthing, he formed a band called “Jump in Your Datsun” and managed to get his demo track played by DJ, John Peel. Fellow student Robert Smith also formed a band - called “The Cure”! Although his youthful adventure in music hit a commercial dead-end, the importance of music in Simon’s life never waned and it would play an integral part in several of Simon’s Liverpool performance art pieces. While at University, in 1983, Simon made his first foray into pavement painting. He would be out at the crack of dawn with his suitcase and pastels, at the bottom of busy Bold Street, and by the time the first punters came along, he would have a recognisable square of the pastel painting ready to attract their attention and draw them towards him. Passers-by stop to watch and have a chat on their way to work, then come back during their lunch hour, to see how he was getting on. By the time they finished work, he would be standing over his completed picture of Daley Thomson, high-jumping his way to Olympic gold, or Santa doling out gifts fr om his sack, or an astonishing reproduction of Michaelangelo’s Creation, surrounded by shoppers, his suitcase bulging with coins. (On one train journey home, the weight of the coins caused him to topple off his seat!). Fr om the outset, Simon’s repertoire was chosen to be topical or attention-grabbing; interaction with the public was a crucial part of his performance. Local news and newspapers soon heard about these “events” and Simon’s work was featured in both. Simon got his first commission for a theatre poster fr om Liverpool Lunchtime Theatre, the brainchild of Unity Theatre Artistic Director, Graeme Phillips, where many of our better-known playwrights cut their teeth. An original 50 minute play, with pre-ordered pub lunch... fantastic idea, Graeme! After the success of the first poster, Simon did them all. The originality of his work earned him commissions to design many of the sets for the productions and to be official photographer for most of them. The posters were so striking and varied in design that commissions from other theatres started to flow. Hundreds of posters were hand-printed in the basement of the Architecture Department. They stood out from all the others, whether on fly-posting sites, in newspapers and listings magazines or theatre displays. No one who passed would fail to know about your performance if Simon had designed your poster. Simon’s first poster for the Liverpool Playhouse is permanently hung as a piece of art in the theatre. Shortly after graduating, Simon embarked on another exciting piece of performance art at The Blackie, a massive city-centre community venue for innovative art and theatre, incorporating a commitment to homeless and socially challenged members of the local community. They were fascinated by Simon’s plan and welcomed it to the venue. A small, working car was to be bought and cut into portable pieces, with angle grinders, as the opening sequence of the performance, with the assistance of friends, musician and photographer brothers, Steve and Joel Cockerill (sons of RA painter Maurice), the pieces would then be used as instruments, on which music/sounds would be played, before the pieces were made into a piece of sculpture by Jonathan Froud, who at that time was primarily working with glass. Time out before the responsibility of earning a living was, of course, an attempt to cycle to Hong Kong, from Liverpool, financed by pavement painting in every country it proved possible, (the Sahara turned to be a bit of a problem), portrait painting or fruit-picking wh ere it was impossible. The bicycle didn’t quite make the whole journey, but after many months spent crossing many countries and meeting with other young travellers, Simon returned to the UK, London this time, with books full of drawings and paintings he had made along the way and began touting his poster portfolio around theatres. His pavement paintings supported him once more and in 1987, he was the Time Out Street Artist of the year. His earliest London commissions included the poster for Kenneth Branagh’s Renaissance Theatre Company’s inaugural performance, at Riverside Studios, Renaissance Nights, The Young Vic, Theatre Royal Stratford East, The Royal Court and a pivotal commission from Trevor Nunn for A Baker’s Wife. All the big agencies had pitched and couldn’t get it right for Nunn. After Simon’s success, wh ere everyone else had fallen short, Dewynters did the sensible thing and brought him in-house and he remained there as a senior designer for three and a half years, before joining competitors, Tangerine, as a Director. It was Simon’s experience at Dewynters which enabled him to move into a more commercial production mode and away from primarily art-based work. After three years at Tangerine, Simon decided to go it alone and set up Simon Williams Design, which by 2005 was too large a group of excellent designers to bear the name of just one and the company was re-branded as Feast. The West End production of Guys and Dolls was the one which really put Feast on the map – and, more importantly, on the same map as the really major players. His client base now includes Sonia Friedman Productions, The Ambassador Theatre Group (the largest operator in the West End), Matthew Bourne, The Royal Court and The Menier Chocolate Factory. Of course, there were always other things going on in the background, certainly for the last fourteen years. Outdoor sculptures have been created from driftwood and left wh ere they were built, in Jamaica. (Simon spent three months there with his family, to give his small children the experience of another life and of the other half of their ancestry). Individual rocks have been painted, in bright colours and again left in place. A series of photographs documenting the changes in himself and his son, Archie, side by side, as each year passes has been amassed; photographs of their shoes, side by side, large and small; small “crop circle” designs have been left in meadows. All represent something, communicate something, to anyone who might come across them. Simon’s work has never existed in isolation. Whether it is to communicate other creatives’ ideas to a potential theatre audience, or his own most personal thoughts, Simon’s work has always reached outwards.

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