Dinner for One is a British music hall sketch recorded in Germany in 1963 that has become the world’s most frequently repeated TV programme. It is an integral component of the Christmas and New Year's Eve schedule in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, South Africa, Australia and Austria. It depicts the 90th birthday of Miss Sophie, who hosts a dinner every year for her ex-suitors, oblivious that she has outlived them all.
Watching it has become a nostalgic ritual which, as well as being a reminder of New Years past, also brings to mind lost friends, family and lovers. This serious theme is presented as slapstick - and in the same vein Doug Jones makes full use of the absurd as he touches on themes of ritual, mortality and the human search for belonging and meaning.
Jone’s installation Coena Pro Viginta (Dinner for Twenty) utilises mass-produced commemorative ceramics. These items, once prized by individuals, can now be found in dusty stacks under tables at car-boot sales.
His interest in the domestic continues in his cross-stitch works. The cost of the materials and the hours spent by the makers of this type of work is often far more than the monetary value of the finished product. Once the maker has died, and the nostalgic value of the piece is exhausted, it can be picked up for pennies – a fate that will be shared by the majority of art produced today.
Amongst other exhibits is Inservi Deo et Laetare (Serve God and be Cheerful), in which the artist introduces us to the remarkable lives of the fictional Brotherhood of Saints. Contemporary issues such as drug abuse and gay rights are personified by the maverick saints - Jones' tongue-in-cheek take on how innocent belief systems can lead to power and corruption.
Doug Jones studied at BCUC and Falmouth colleges, and is now based in London. He has had solo shows in London, New York, Liverpool and Exeter, as well as taking part in group shows across the UK and in Bulgaria. Alieni Iuris is his largest exhibition to date.
Associated events at mac included free public talks by the artist and by the curator, and visual art workshops exploring personal and collective desires, religious symbolism and working with humour.
For Dinner for Twenty, an invitation only event, nineteen guests joined Doug Jones to partake of a celebratory meal and party games utalising Coena Pro Viginta. The menu adhered to the courses and drinks consumed in Dinner for One, at the same time as incorporating traditional New Year and Christmas Eve dishes from some of the countries who transmit the programme.