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."
One of the last things I did before lockdown commenced was a talk and memory box workshop with years 5 and 6 at Radnor Road Primary School.
They had carried out a mass litter pick with Cardiff Rivers Group and then spent the day with me turning all their rubbish into huge pieces of art. Each class had a huge box and the children did an amazing job of creating dividers for all their objects and sticking their objects in.
There were still spaces in the boxes for more rubbish to be collected and added to the box throughout the remaining term - a project to be continued when they go back to school. I can't wait to see them completed!
The school also asked me to give a talk to the pupils about plastic pollution, the environment and what we can do to help the planet.
If you're looking for workshops with schools, please get in touch. I'd love to hear your ideas.
I had the pleasure of teaching a drawing workshop alongside the Goodwash Company. I tutored 10 people with varying levels of experience and they all produced some amazing results! Everyone left with a finished drawing of their own house / shop / or other landmark that they had chosen. Thank you to everyone who came and hopefully there will be more to come in the future...
Greyhound Rescue Wales are a fantastic charity based in Carmarthenshire. I adopted my greyhound from them in 2018, and I was delighted to be asked to produce a set of Christmas cards for them in 2019.
Based on my lovely dog, I produced 4 designs for the packs of cards, pro-bono. I was thrilled to learn that they sold out!
I’m an artist who creates beautiful memory boxes and intricate ink drawings to help you connect with the people and places you love.