Former Member of the New South Wales Upper House, Richard Jones is a lifelong advocate for the environment. He now utilizes his love of producing ceramics to protect the rainforest and its endangered species that are so dear to his heart.
Richard Jones has worn many hats over the years: publisher, environmental NGO founder, member of Parliament and now – artist. Richard had originally planned to study, create and sell fine ceramics, but other projects and opportunities sidetracked this endeavor.
“When my mother died in 1967, the most precious things she left me were ceramic pieces she made,” said Richard. “I started on the pottery wheel a few years later but became caught up in a whirlwind of starting my own business and working for the environment.”
A whirlwind is an apt description of Richard’s journey over the past few decades. His initial passion for the environment grew early in his publishing career. When Richard was the CEO of a publishing house in 1971, a friend brought to his attention the plight of the ancient forests at Australia’s Myall Lakes. Acres of old-growth coastal forests that host a variety of unique species were being bulldozed for easier access to minerals and sands.
“I wrote to an Australian politician, Premier of New South Wales Robert Askin, asking him to help protect these precious coastal forests,” said Richard. “The Premier responded that I might know about publishing but knew nothing about politics.”
Not to be deterred, Richard decided to run for Parliament so that he could enact environmental change. While campaigning for a political position, Richard founded Greenpeace Australia, the Fund for Animals and was the first convener of Friends of the Earth. He was also publisher and editor of the environmental magazine Simply Living in the ’80s.
Due to his tireless efforts, Richard was finally elected to the New South Wales Upper House in 1988. During his time in office, he negotiated to save old growth forests and create new marine parks while protecting Aboriginal rights.
Today, Richard has come full circle, returning to his love of crafting ceramics and selling his artistic creations to benefit the rainforest. His pottery project, Rainforest Ceramics, hosts an online shop full of one-of-a-kind items whose sales support Rainforest Trust’s work worldwide.
“I chose to support Rainforest Trust over any other organization because it is the best in the world at conserving global rainforests. I did my research!” noted Richard.
This August, Richard was part of an open studio event for artists across eastern Australia. In just one weekend, Richard was able to raise enough funds to help Rainforest Trust protect 2,078 acres of Congolese rainforest.
“People who buy my ceramics are thrilled at being able to contribute to save the rainforest,” said Richard.
Header photo: Richard sits in a 5-acre rainforest that he and his wife regenerated from a paddock for cows. Photo courtesy of Jo Immig.