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.