Katherine Jones' intricate line drawings reflect her architectural training but also her deep love for Wales
From picturesque Portmeirion to the rugged beauty of Blaenau Ffestiniog, Katherine Jones' artwork reflects her love of Wales and its buildings. A Cardiff-based artist and architect, Jones has become known for making three-dimensional bespoke 'memory boxes' - framed boxes intricately filled with items by which to remember a loved one or a precious time. However, this is not her only chosen medium.
Her latest exhibition, in Oriel Plas Glyn y Weddw, focuses on pen, ink and watercolour drawings that reflect her architectural training. Lovingly drawn in intricate detail, these works focus on Welsh places, in particular north Wales.
"I use my work to help others connect with the people, places and moments they love," she says.
"I enjoy creating the artworks with so much detail and giving these recognisable places a new lease of life.
"I love hearing people's stories about why they like a particular drawing or what resonates with them about a particular place. I hope people will find new layers of meaning in these drawings and a reminder of happy times and special places."
Katherine's show is running alongside Oriel Plas Glyn Y Weddw's summer exhibition, featuring work by over 80 artists from all over Wales and beyond, and Anghysbell by Manon Awst, a multidisciplinary artist, working in performance, sculpture, poetry, site-specific intervention and works on paper.
The show runs until the end of September.
My exhibition 'Grounded' will be at Plas Glyn y Weddw from July 21 until the end of September 2021. Read about the exhibition below:
We all have our favourite places. The ones that ground us, make us feel at home, or take us down memory lane. Katherine's intricate drawings bring these cherished landscapes, towns or buildings to life in a stylish, unique way.
In the last two years, she has been featured on Radio 4 and has been commissioned by the likes of the National Trust, Microsoft and the National Museum of Wales.
Katherine's exhibition at Oriel Plas Glyn y Weddw brings together her collection of drawings across Wales, with a focus on North Wales. From the whimsical town of Portmeirion to the rugged beauty of Blaenau Ffestiniog, Katherine's artworks have a commonality to them. Through intricate linework, unique hatches and tiny details, her drawings capture the essence of a place. Each artwork is anchored by the ground or sea beneath them and connected by the sky.
Yet, they are all recognisably different, grounded within their specific locations, and their individual identities are perfectly captured. Katherine's unique style creates a recognisable, yet unusual take on some of Wales' most treasured places.
Article Written for Dog's Today, February 2021
“Collect memories, not stuff” the saying goes. But our memories are often intrinsically linked with the stuff we accumulate. What would you put in your own mini museum – and what’s the betting it includes something doggie?
The collection of objects we have around us are unique to every individual. The items we’re drawn to, or are gifted, are an expression of our identity. I could identify friends by a selection of contents from their homes or even from inside their handbags. Our choice of lipstick or perfume; meaningful photos; a favourite mug; a well-worn keyring; travel knick-knacks or much-loved heirlooms – they all tell a story of who we are.
So I was very excited to chat to an artist who has specialised in curation creations.
Katherine Jones from Cardiff is an animal-loving architect turned artist. Her distinctive pen, ink and watercolour drawings feature cityscapes and buildings, as well as animals and Welsh landscapes. But memory boxes have also become a large part of Katherine’s work.
The display boxes contain items unique to a person, place or event. Whether it’s a Mamgu (grandmother in Welsh) box, commemorating a much-loved family matriarch, or to celebrate an anniversary or a special trip, each collection is unique. While most can be wall mounted, one of Katherine’s commissions was made to be a central piece of furniture. The one-metre-diameter coffee table for a holiday cottage was formed from an old window frame and filled with objects that had been collected from the site of the cottage – including a 17th century button and an old rare coin.
Of course, pets feature heavily in the collections, being an integral part of people’s families, and the medium is perfect for dealing with grief and processing memories when a pet passes. A collar and ID tag, a favourite toy, bowl, fragment of blanket, map location of a favourite walk, a lock of fur… I’ve already started listing items I’d put in my own doggie box!
The love of a good dog is something that Katherine is no stranger to, though she’s only a relatively recent convert. “I grew up with cats,” explains Katherine. “My partner wanted a dog – I wasn’t sure – but then he mentioned adopting a rescue Greyhound. Basically, a Greyhound is a cat you can walk!”
Drawn to the Greyhound’s feline grace and character – “they are so lazy!” – they started looking and contacted Greyhound Rescue Wales, who matched them to Lili, an ex-racer from Ireland.
It was a perfect pairing.
“She’s just so quiet and calm and loves her walks,” explains Katherine. “Whether it’s ten-mile walks in the Lake District or Brecon Beacons, or, if we’re really busy, two 30-minute walks in one of Cardiff’s lovely parks, she’s happy. She loves lounging around on the sofa.”
Lili’s past remains something of a mystery. All that is known is that she was an ex-racing dog from Ireland; no one knows why she’s missing a tail. Perhaps it was caught in a trap. Whatever her past, Lili is now happy and settled, and she’s very much the light of Katherine’s life.
So much so, in fact, that Katherine are keen to support the charity that rescued Lili, and to encourage others to consider rehoming a rescue Greyhound. Katherine’s print of Lili – complete with tail! – is sold to raise money for Greyhound Rescue Wales, with 100 per cent of all profits going to the charity.
Katherine has also produced Christmas cards for the charity and Katherine has even donned her architect hat to design the charity’s new centre in Carmarthenshire, which is awaiting planning permission.
It’s a very dogcentric life for someone who, three years ago, would have described herself as more of a cat person. But if there’s one thing we know about dogs: they are very good at getting on to your sofa, into your heart and transforming your world!
The mounted print of Lili measures eight by six inches and costs £15, with all profits going to Greyhound Rescue Wales.
Covid: How Christmas markets adapted to regulations or moved online
The coronavirus pandemic has seen the cancellation of many of Wales' annual Christmas markets, forcing traders to adapt to new ways of selling.
Before Wales brought forward its level four national lockdown - meaning only retailed selling essential items can remain open, some markets went ahead with smaller, ticketed events.
Others moved to newly established online marketplaces.
Some traders said the restrictions hit them hard but others said through adversity they found an 'amazing community' of shoppers and sellers.
To read the full article, please click here.
Western Mail feature : Christmas 2020
The festive season is a busy time for Cardiff-based artist and architect Katherine Jones, not least because her unique advent calendars are so much in demand.
She will be selling these and other work including drawings, Christmas decorations, cards and memory box commissions from her stall in Cardiff's Christmas Markets from December 6-12 and at other events, as detailed on her website.
Katherine's memory boxes are a type of 'object art'. They are made with sentimental items collected by the client - for example items linked to a deceased relative. They are then arranged to make a unique piece of art. Her advent calendars are similar, but they contain Christmas-themed objects, each of which is revealed by opening a window.
"It's the perfect gift for Christmas that you can use time and time again" she says. "Christmas is a very important time of year for me because people are actively looking for beautiful gifts to buy for their loved ones. A big proportion of my takings for the year usually comes through Christmas markets.
"Things will be different this Christmas and based much more online. However, I really do feel that this year in particular people are thinking much more about where they shop and they want to support local businesses.
"I love selling my work on stalls and in person because it gives me a chance to meet the customer. I meet so many lovely people and have so many great chats. I've made some good friends from doing the stalls too - both other makers and customers alike.
"The physical stalls also give customers the opportunity to ask me questions and to see my work up close, which I think is particularly important for the memory boxes."
This will be Katherine's second year selling as part of the Maker's Arcade Pop Up Shop in Morgan Arcade, Cardiff.
"This is a fantastic opportunity to sell in the city centre with around 20 other extremely talented local makers', she says. "It's a great way for people to support small businesses all in one place."
Katherine continues to work as a self-employed architect alongside her career as an artist. Her most recent architectural project has been to design Greyhound Rescue Wales' kennels and reception wing.
"Being an architect is great and offers a different side to my career - it's extremely rewarding," she says. "The architecture has informed my drawings and memory boxes through their precise nature and attention to detail. The drawings, in particular, are obviously influenced by my training as an architect.
"Many of my architecture clients now come through my artwork, which is something I hadn't previously anticipated, but it's lovely to be able to develop that relationship with a customer further".
Like most artists, she has found 2020 a challenging year, but has been buoyed up by the loyalty of her customers - and in April, one of them shared a photo of the memory boxes she had create in memory of her late grandmother on Twitter, sparking an enthusiastic reaction with more than 25,000 likes.
"Following on from this, I was invited to speak with my client on Radio 4 about my work. This has meant a surge in memory box commissions, some of which I feel extremely humbled to have been asked to do," she says.
Table It: Feature in Cardiff Life, September 2020
Object art - the curation of found and collected objects - fascinates artist and architect Katherine Jones, who lives in Canton. She believes that beauty can be found in the most common and familiar things, and it's these artefacts that she will gather, compose and assemble into bespoke boxes or coffee tables (As pictured).
"People often tell me that they save mundane, everyday items and trinkets that hold fond memories, but they are not sure what to do with them," says Katherine. "When these 'ordinary' items are displayed, they are transformed into a rich and textural whole. The boxes often juxtapose natural and man-made artefacts, combined within a uniquely crafted frame. They capture a place and time through crafts and making, and have been popular as bespoke commissions, making each box personal, relevant, evocative and highly emotive.
"One of my favourite recent commissions was a diptych called Mamgu's Boxes. The two boxes reveal treasured possessions of write and performer Sian Harries' late grandmother - from rose-patterned handkerchiefs and bottles of talcum powder to chipped ornaments and hand written notes. I worked closely with Sian to learn about her grandmother and we made the boxes to showcase these memories."
Prices start at £95 for a commissioned box; to turn the box into coffee table, it would be an approximate additional £150.
In June 2020, I was asked to write a column for the Cardiff University's alumni page. You can read the full article here and I've included an extract below:
Artist and architect, Katherine Jones (BSc 2011, MArch 2013, PGDip 2015), explains how the power of nostalgia and connectivity can be encapsulated in both buildings and the art depicting them.
Since I was young, I have loved art. I’ve always enjoyed drawing as well as collecting items such as stones and shells from the beach or local handicrafts from holidays abroad. This is what drove me to study architecture at Cardiff University. One of the main reasons I chose the Welsh School of Architecture was its emphasis on drawing and model making. I even had a university project that was set in Trieste, Italy, in which I created a series of ‘object art’ pieces about the history of trade in the city. Studying at Cardiff University was a wonderful experience and has really paved the way forward for my career.
Having a background in architecture has hugely influenced my artwork – as an architect you’re trained to be detailed and precise, which is exactly what my art is. My drawings represent familiar places in unique ways. As an artist, I am continually trying to find the beauty, detail and pattern of familiar settings and objects and reinterpret them into my artwork. It’s extremely detailed, intricate work that can capture the spirit and the beauty of a place or person, which often means my pieces hold lots of memories and significance for those who enjoy them. I love hearing stories about why art is so special to people. For instance, a recent customer gave my drawing of the National Trust property, Dyffryn Gardens as an anniversary present for her daughter who got married there last year. Another customer gave my Tenby drawing as a gift to her mother, because that’s where they scattered her father’s ashes.
My favourite buildings to draw are those which have a lot of detail and present me with a challenge! One example is the drawing I did of the Main Building for Cardiff University – it was definitely one of the most complex drawings I’ve done. It’s popular with those who’ve studied at Cardiff University, as it reminds them of the great times they had here. People hold their university days close to their hearts. It’s often where they met partners and lifelong friends and having a personal memento in the form of a drawing helps them to relive those days!
Art reminds people of the places or loved ones that they can no longer visit, which is particularly relevant and important during the current situation we are all facing. There’s a sense of nostalgia that, during these strange times, has been an important way for people to connect with family, friends and those special places that they cannot visit at present. I am happy that my art can help make this happen and this makes me incredibly proud of the work that I do.
One of my favourite recent commissions was a diptych called Mamgu’s Boxes. The two boxes reveal treasured possessions of writer and performer Sian Harries’ late grandmother. People often tell me that they save mundane, everyday items and trinkets that remind them of their loved one’s daily life but are not sure what to do with them. It always strikes me how it is these everyday and familiar objects that are most evocative and emotive. I worked closely with Sian to learn about her grandmother and we made two boxes that showcased these memories. Sian wrote about the final piece on Twitter, and it was wonderful to see over 25,000 people engage with my work in this way. It gave me a unique insight into people’s reception of it, especially as they were not speaking directly to me. I was moved to see how the work affected people, touching a generation of individuals who spoke of recognising their own mothers and grandmothers in the rose-patterned handkerchiefs, bottles of talcum powder, flying ducks, chipped ornaments, Rimmel nail varnish, handwritten notes, and coin purses that make up this piece.
In May 2020, I spoke about Mamgu’s Boxes alongside Sian Harries on Radio 4 about our discussions about what she had saved from her grandmother’s house, why they evoked such strong memories of her, and the process with which I curated and composed the two boxes: listen here.
How to avoid throwing out sentimental items after a loved one has died. Hanging on to items that no longer have any use is not always practical, but perhaps what was 'tat' could be made into beautiful art. Object artist, Katherine Jones has done that, and a photograph of the everyday things which were owned by a Welsh grandmother has been getting a lot of love online. Now more people hope to turn their loved ones possessions into a new type of treasure for their walls.
Western Mail feature : April 2020
Artist Katherine Jones should have been exhibiting her work on a stall at the RHS show in Bute Park this weekend.
When it was cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown, she came up with a novel solution: She will set up the stall in her house and share pictures of it via Instagram, where all the work will be for sale.
Katherine is a Cardiff-based artist and architect whose work ranges from finely detailed drawings to fascinating three-dimensional art made with found objects.
She studied architecture at Cardiff University and, after qualifying, worked in London for several years before returning to Cardiff. Along the way she started making object art - initially just as gifts for family and friends - and then rediscovered her passion for drawing on a trip to Central America and Mexico.
Now fully self employed both as an architect and an artist, she faces a significant challenge in the face of the lockdown.
'A large part of my income usually comes through festivals and events where I have a stall to sell my work.
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, these have all obviously been cancelled," she says. "I decided not to let that stop me!"
Her virtual stall opens at 11am tomorrow and will continue throughout the weekend on her Instagram @katherinejonesartist.
"The products will also be on my story highlights after the weekend," she says.
"The items will include one-off bespoke object art pieces as well as original drawings and a range of my usual prints."
I’m an artist who creates beautiful memory boxes and intricate ink drawings to help you connect with the people and places you love.