Barbara Mildred Jones was born in Croydon on Christmas Day in 1912. After attending Croydon High School for Girls and Croydon Art School, she eventually came to study Mural Decoration at the Royal College of Art – and then came to belong to that distinctive group of artists and illustrators of whom John Piper, Edward Bawden, Eric Ravilious and Edward Ardizzone are perhaps the best known.
Barbara Jones is best known for her striking mural designs for the Festival of Britain (1951) and the classic designs for the childrens television series the Woodentops.
Various shipping companies, hotels and restaurants commissioned her designs and she worked on many important exhibitions. James Gardner requested her involvement over several decades: with ‘Design Fair’ for the Council of Industrial Design in the late 1940s; the Festival of Britain in 1951; and the Commonwealth Institute, London in 1962. Graphic designer, writer and broadcaster, Jones championed the popular arts. Her exhibition ‘Black Eyes and Lemonade’ for the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1951 and her book ‘The Unsophisticated Arts’ of the same year remain landmarks in the appreciation of vernacular English culture.