“Her work is precise and meticulous but has the biggest heart at its centre”
– Lisa Evans, Cardiff Life Magazine
Canton-based artist Katherine Jones uses her work to help others connect with the people, lost loved ones, places and moments they cherish. She does this in many ways – from crafting bespoke memory boxes filled with curated collections of your treasured objects, to creating intricately detailed drawings. Inspired by her experience as an architect, her work is precise and meticulous but has the biggest heart at its centre. Here we chat…
You specialise in object art, and your memory box creations have aided many to overcome the grief of loved ones. Where did the idea come from?
After returning from a five month trip to Central America with a rucksack full of tiny souvenirs, I crafted myself a wooden memory box to house them all. The box brought back so many fond memories, so I started making them for others too. They all feature curated collections of people’s treasured objects – there’s been everything from a 17th century coin, to a rare beer can, and babies’ teeth to a grandma’s curlers.
Each handcrafted box and its compartments hold a curated collection of cherished items that give people a unique way to remember a person, place or time that matters most to them. In 2020, one of my customers wrote on Twitter about her memory box – which she had commissioned to remember her late grandmother – and it was amazing to see over 25,000 people engage with my work online.
You are an architect by trade, how does this inspire your work?
After 11 years of architectural drawing and bringing buildings to life in my career as an architect, I realised I could help people connect with places in a new way. Taking inspiration from my architecture experience, I started creating meticulously detailed drawings of properties and landscapes that had meaning for people. Finding beauty in small details is one of the things I am most proud of, my artwork of Cardiff City Hall involved drawing 2520 individual lines – and that’s just the windows alone.
I use my pens, inks and watercolours to draw universities, first homes, wedding venues, cities and landmarks. I’m proud to say that my artwork now hangs on hundreds of walls and evokes precious memories for people all over the world.
When did you set up in business as an artist?
After I returned from travelling, I found a part-time architecture job so I could develop my artwork. I then worked all evenings and weekends, selling at loads of markets to establish myself. When the time came and I felt like I could support myself, I left the architecture job, in 2019. Covid struck halfway through my full first year of being self-employed, which was a challenge to say the least, particularly because I wasn’t initially eligible for any government funding.
Are you still an architect?
Yes, I’m a self-employed architect and I’m a regular guest tutor at the Welsh School of Architecture at Cardiff University.
Tell us about your artistic highlights so far…
I’ve featured on BBC Radio 4 and have been commissioned by the likes of the National Trust, the National Museum of Wales, and Microsoft. I also had a supersized version of my Porthcawl drawing displayed on Porthcawl Pavilion over the summer as part of an initiative run by the Anwen Cultural Trust. And, last year, I was asked to create a huge 6m-long bespoke piece of art – featuring three storks, which was an opportunity to raise awareness of the successful reintroduction of the birds in the UK – that is now displayed on the walls of the maternity ward at The Grange hospital in Cwmbran.
You won our Arts award at the Cardiff Life Awards 2022, how did that feel?
Well, what a night! I was up against some amazing organizations, so still can’t quite believe they chose little old me! A huge congratulations to all the finalists and winners. The judge’s remarks were absolutely lovely and I’m so pleased that they specifically commented on the memory boxes.
Have you done any collaborations with other local businesses?
I am a member of Cardiff Indie Collective – a fantastic group that champions small businesses in Cardiff. I also teamed up with Run4Wales to produce the official Cardiff Half Marathon artwork 2022 to celebrate the landmarks along the route.
And your work has been selected to appear at the brand-new Yellow TSE eco store in Cardiff?
Yes! It’s a social enterprise department store in Morgan Arcade, which is introducing a new sustainable way of shopping and promoting small, independent businesses. I’m incredibly proud to be one of their concessions.
Is there any good news you wish to share?
I work closely with wildlife charities; since September 2020, I’ve partnered with Hedgehog Helpline Cymru, the WDC (Whale and Dolphin Conservation) and Rewilding Britain. I’ve created drawings for each charity and I donate 40% of every item sold. During my time off, I can be found rescuing bats, bathing hedgehogs and hand-feeding rabbits at my local wildlife centre.
I have recently been commissioned by Tower Bridge to create a detailed drawing of the bridge itself. Tower Bridge has stocked my London prints since last summer, but this will be something different!
“This is a wonderful day. I have never seen this one before.” – Maya Angelou
I’m celebrating my 3rd business birthday!
I can’t believe it, but it’s now been three years since I left my part time architecture job to give my full attention to my art venture and became self-employed.
I’m incredibly proud of how my business has grown.
Before I made the leap, I juggled my architectural work and my art business at the same time, which was full on! Those years saw me freeze at Cardiff Christmas markets, exhibiting at the Kooywood gallery and the London Welsh Centre and trading at several RHS shows.
Here I am at my very first market in Brecon in 2016!
In 2019, after a lot of deep thinking, I made the huge decision to leave my salaried position and go all in with my art. It was exciting, and I loved being self-employed, but then covid hit. All my events were cancelled, I wasn’t eligible for government funding and it was a scary time! I had to do something, so I rallied myself and ran virtual stalls from my kitchen, which were really successful!
Things grew from there and 2020 saw my memory boxes go viral on Twitter thanks to Sian Harries’ commission. That led to me being interviewed on Radio 4, which was amazing.
I didn’t do many physical events in 2021, but I did have some giant versions of my drawings installed on the side of the pavilion in Porthcawl and exhibited my work at Oriel Plas Glyn y Weddw in Llanbedrog, North Wales.
2022 landed with a bang and I stepped things up a gear with a stall at Top Drawer, which was both brilliant and exhausting at the same time, taking a whopping 8 hours just to set up my stall!
A few weeks ago, I won a Cardiff Life Award and then on the eve of my business birthday, I took my work to RHS Malvern, which was a fantastic, vibrant event.
Thanks so much for your support, it’s been a whirlwind!
“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
I still can’t believe it, but I won a Cardiff Life Award! I was entered as a finalist into the Arts category. I was so shocked, as I was up against some amazing giants such as Art & Soul of Cardiff, Blackwater Gallery, Broken Hare, Hijinx Theatre, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Rubicon Dance and Welsh National Opera. The judges though, chose little old me!
Focusing on my bereavement boxes, their comments were so kind:
“Katherine Jones provided 19 hugely special memory boxes which aided many to overcome grief of a loved one, whilst engaging over 25,000 with online works. Powerful, everlasting creativity.”
Winning was absolutely amazing, and I'm excited for the rest of 2022 - I've got big plans so watch this space!
Find out more about my bereavement boxes here.
“Here are some who like to run. They run for fun in the hot hot sun” – Dr Seuss
Well, it might not have been in the hot hot sun (although it was still very warm!)\ but March welcomed tens of thousands of runners to Cardiff to take part in the Cardiff Half Marathon.
Sponsored by Cardiff University, the half marathon takes place twice every year. Although I’ve actually taken part in the run before and wasn’t taking part this time, this year was a significant one for me – I collaborated with the race organisers Run 4 Wales, to produce this commemorative drawing.
My special edition print celebrates the iconic Cardiff landmarks found along the route, including Cardiff Castle, the Principality Stadium, the Norwegian Church, Cardiff Bay, Roath Park Lake, Cardiff University and Cardiff City Hall.
It was an absolute pleasure to create this special drawing and it’s been given to many as celebratory gifts, and bought my others as mementos of the effort and preparation required to take part in this kind of race.
Well done to all who took part!
View more of my drawings of the great sights of Cardiff here.
“Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own”
– Michelle Obama
Over the years, I’ve had the absolute pleasure and honour to celebrate the lives, careers and adventures of so many special women.
These memory boxes represent a cross section of mothers, daughters, grandmothers, wives and sisters.
Each tells a story about a person, many of whom are no longer with us. For each box, I work closely with family members to help bring treasured items together so they can be seen and enjoyed, and so memories of lost loved ones can be remembered and cherished. You can see all my memory boxes here.
I work respectfully and sensitively to curate boxes that perfectly capture the essence of the precious stories customers want to share.
If you’d like to hear more about how I create these boxes, read about when I was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 here.
To find out more about how to work with me to create a memory box, get in touch here.
“A ship is always safe at the shore, but that is not what it is built for” – Albert Einstein
What an experience! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still tired after exhibiting at Top Drawer London this year - taking yourself out of your comfort zone is daunting and exhausting, but it so so worth it!
After initially applying in Autumn 2019, I had to wait for ages because the show was postponed twice due to covid. Then, when it was finally allowed to happen, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get there because of the huge storms battering the UK. Thank goodness that in the end, I made it and so did the many visitors and customers who made their way to Olympia over the three days of the show.
It took eight hours to set up my stand, and I didn’t sit down for four days, but it all went smoothly and I really enjoyed the experience. I met so many amazing businesses, makers and potential new stockists while I was there – hoping to be able to share more about that soon!
I also had so many lovely supportive comments from customers, friends and other makers who were excited for me – thank you to every one of you.
To stay up to date with what I’ve been up to, preview new work, and be the first to hear about upcoming events, sign up for my emails here.
I started the year feeling reflective, but also excited to see what 2022 brings for my life and my little business. January is always an important month for me, as it marks the anniversary of when I took the plunge to become a full artist.
Six years ago, we left the UK and flew to Panama City. We had no real plan, other than we knew we were flying home from San Francisco on the 28th June.
We travelled by public transport across 10 different countries, saw some amazing landscapes, wildlife and ancient monuments; met some great people and ate some ok food (Central America isn’t famed for its food – although the pupusas in El Salvador were an exception).
While we were there, I kept 2 sketchbooks on the go. One was for documenting everything in insane amounts of detail. I drew where we stayed, how we got there, what we ate and how much we were spending.
The second was my ‘nice’ sketchbook, in which I created ‘proper’ drawings. Some of these, such as ‘Havana’, Yosemite and ‘Whale’, are still available on my website.
I also collected something small from every place I visited, which I later curated into my first large memory box. It housed beer caps and a coin from every country; miniature paintings from Nicaragua; traditional weaving from Guatemala; animal sculptures of all the wildlife we saw in Costa Rica; a candle from where we stayed deep in the Honduran rainforest (with no electricity!); day of the dead memorabilia and Aztec replicas from Mexico; Cuban cigars; a model of an old school bus from Belize (as that was how we mostly travelled); coffee beans from El Salvador and a mini Panama hat from…Panama. You can see the box in full here.
When I got back, there was no doubt in my mind. I didn’t want to go back into architecture full time, so booked myself into a couple of markets, got a part time architecture job and put my energy into growing the art business that I love and I’m so proud of.
If you’re curious, you can read more about my career journey in a Western Mail article here.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” – Pablo Picasso
By now, you all know how much I love nature and how important preserving the planet is to me. You may or may not know that through my work I have partnered with several conservation charities to whom I make donations each year.
I’m so chuffed to be able to say that last year, sales from my Whales and Dolphin collection, my Animals and Birds for Rewilding Britain collection, my hedgehog print and my “Planet Earth” drawing generated a total donation of over £650. That money will go directly into helping protect endangered species in the UK and the wider world.
This is how it works:
“Planet Earth” - created for Earth Day 2021, 100% of the cost of this print is donated to the charity partners above (£10 to each charity).
Whales and Dolphin drawings collection - 40% of profits from the sale of this collection goes to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation. In addition, the original drawings have been donated directly to the charity.
Animals and Birds for Rewilding Britain collection - 40% of profits from the sale of this collection goes to Rewilding Britain who do wonderful work in the UK, restoring habitat for wildlife.
Hedgehog print - 40% of profits from the sale of each hedgehog print goes to Hedgehog Helpline Cymru who rescue, rehabilitate and release hedgehogs back into the wild.
If you are an animal or conservation charity and are interested in working with me, please get in touch here – I’d love to find out more about what you do!
If you’d like to help the planet by purchasing a print, you can browse and buy from my charity collections here, or by clicking on any of the images above.
Thank you so much for your support!
Well what a strange year 2021 turned out to be! I thought it would be fun to take a quick look back and share some of my highlights with you all.
On top of all of the brilliant private commissions for drawings and memory boxes that I’ve been lucky enough to work on this year…
I was so excited to have a solo exhibition at the Oriel Plas Glyn y Weddw, a beautiful gallery in North Wales.
I partnered with Rewilding Britain to produce a set of drawings to raise awareness of animals that are at risk or extinct in the UK.
I created my Earth drawing, and I’m proud to say that 100% of profits from the sale of this print goes to my charity partners.
A supersized version of my Porthcawl drawing was displayed on Porthcawl pavilion as part of an initiative run by the Anwen Cultural Trust.
I worked with two primary schools who used my art as inspiration to produce their own wonderful pieces.
I was delighted to create a huge bespoke piece of art that is now displayed on the walls of the maternity ward at The Grange hospital in Cwmbran.
I also celebrated my second business birthday and gave my website a glamorous makeover, complete with brand new videos!
Thank you so much for your continued support, I’m so very grateful. See you in 2022! :)
When I decided to create my intricate drawing of Cardiff Castle, I decided to take four different views of the fascinating building, and weave them together into one piece.
Very excitingly, a framed version of the drawing was given as a gift to the Princess of Thailand when she visited Wales a few years ago!
I was also asked to create a drawing of the castle’s animal wall. If you’re familiar with Cardiff, you’ll have seen the wall, and probably stopped before it trying to work out what type of animal is depicted by each statue. Spoiler – in my drawing, I’ve helpfully named each one underneath! Originally, the animal wall was located directly in front of the castle and there were only nine animals. Lord Bute approved the design for each one, but rejected a sea horse! After WWI, Castle Street was widened, and the animal wall was relocated to where it now borders Bute park, and six more animals were added.
If there’s a Cardiff landmark you’d like me to draw for you, get in touch directly on my contact page, or head to the Private Commissions page on my website, to see what I have created for previous customers.
I’m an artist who creates beautiful memory boxes and intricate ink drawings to help you connect with the people and places you love.