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.
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