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.
I’m an artist who creates beautiful memory boxes and intricate ink drawings to help you connect with the people and places you love.