Katy Jones

Illustrator and pyrographer; explorer of legends, mythology and nature.

Katy Jones has been working as an artist since 2003. She has exhibited and sold work internationally, as well as illustrating a number of books, licensing artwork and running art workshops.

Katy’s work is informed and inspired by stories, especially fairy tales, myths and legends. The fantastical, dreamlike elements of her images are frequently offset by closely observed natural detail. It is also possible to trace the influence of the stylised but organic forms found in gothic architecture, art nouveau and celtic design. Intricate detail, bold colours and atmospheric backgrounds are achieved with a blend of different media, including watercolour, pigment markers, coloured pencil and touches of gouache, acrylic paint and ink. Katy also uses a pyrography machine to hand burn wood, most often for jewellery or small wall-hangings, adding extra colour and details with paint.

Katy believes strongly in the importance of caring for the natural world. This includes resisting a consumerist attitude to life which costs the planet and all its inhabitants dearly. She also believes in the power of stories to help us find and explore deeper, less materialistic meanings in life and seeks to express and encourage this in her art.

TSAP @ Platt Hall – Shreds and Patches: Whatever Next?

Queen of Shreds and Patches

As the Gallery of Costume (1947-2017), Platt Hall amassed one of the world’s finest collections of historical and contemporary clothing and accessories. When the museum was closed in 2017 it was because these irreplaceable costumes were being consumed by clothes moth larvae.

In response to this small scale natural disaster, Katy Jones created a larger-than-life ‘clothes moth’ using old clothes from her personal collection. This Queen of Shreds and Patches (‘Patch’ for short) includes parts of a sock, a T-shirt, a pair of jeans and even some scraps of lingerie lace.

The textiles used all have a history, and many have personal significance, such as offcuts of the lace Katy used to repair and embellish her second hand wedding dress. There are also printed leaves, cut from jungle print curtains, originally made for Katy’s childhood bedroom by her mother – and later re-made by Katy for her own daughter’s bedroom. Scraps of floral fabric on the wings are left over from a dress Katy’s mother made herself, thirty-three years ago. The moth’s eyes are buttons cut from worn out clothing.

Moth 1
Image of a second moth

Tree Corset

Alongside the moth, Katy made a garment to clothe the large tree stump which stands outside Platt Hall. This tree was a much loved Indian Bean Tree or Handkerchief Tree, which was nurtured by the staff at Platt Hall over years. It seems to have died as the result of an act of vandalism, in which the tree’s bark was removed. Platt Hall staff made strenuous efforts to save it using water-soaked hessian bandages, but sadly it was too badly damaged.

Katy’s tree-garment recalls these hessian bandages, but also reflects Platt Hall’s most recent role as the Gallery of Costume. Eyelets and lacing secure it in place, referencing the historical corsets in the Gallery of Costume’s collection. There are holes in the garment, deliberately cut to resemble gigantified moth damage.

Time and natural processes have brought about change for both Platt Hall and the Indian Bean Tree. Platt Hall has closed its doors and the tree has died and become a stump. By using the tree stump as the basis for an art installation, Katy has transformed the tree once more – if only temporarily. Platt Hall is also in the process of a slow and careful metamorphosis, becoming a different kind of cultural space. It will continue to include gallery space where costumes and other objects can be enjoyed and explored, but will also make opportunities for local people to gather, learn and create together. Ideas about the hall’s future are still forming out of a series of conversations and investigations with park users, community groups and local residents. TSAP’s project for Platt Hall is a part of this re-connection with the community, aiming to provoke curiosity about Platt Hall and its collections, as well as exciting interest in its future. 

Watercolour Metamorphosis

Recently we have all experienced change as a result of Covid 19, whether that has meant self-isolation, getting used to zoom meetings or face masks, home educating our children, job loss, redeployment, furlough, illness or even the loss of a loved one. Without dismissing the grief, stress and hardship that Covid 19 has brought for many, Katy wanted to reflect on some of the positive side effects of lockdown. The reduction in traffic made a noticeable difference to the air quality in the vicinity of Platt Hall, as well as reducing noise so that birdsong became more audible.

People began to walk and cycle more, both because of the quieter roads and the slower pace of lockdown life for those who weren’t keyworkers. For several weeks, people were taking daily walks in a limited local area. Many people have commented that this has allowed them to observe the slow transformations in nature more closely than they have ever done before.

Horse Chestnut
Horse Chestnut

Inspired by this, Katy painted a series of three watercolours, showing the changes from horse chestnut flower to newly forming fruit, to fully developed horse chestnut. Similarly, she painted three bramble pictures, showing buds, flowers and blackberries. In reality, horse chestnuts and blackberries won’t be ripe for many months, but Katy wanted to encourage the viewer to look ahead to future change. Next she scanned the watercolours into a digital format and printed them out onto transfer paper, so that the images could be ironed onto fabric. She sewed these images behind some of the moth holes in her tree garment so that passers by can follow the transformations from bud to fruit and perhaps recognise details they may have observed themselves in Platt Fields Park. Computer software was then used to morph the watercolours together, creating a sort of mini-animation of the formation of a conker and a blackberry. These animations are viewable on this page and QR codes linking to them have been transferred onto fabric and sewn into the tree-garment so they can be discovered by passers by. Using window displays in Platt Hall, Katy aims to encourage park-users to share their own observations of mutable nature in the park or local area, in the form of photographs, drawings,  and other local nature-related artwork on Instagram, tagging @mag_platthall.

Throughout this work Katy has explored the way that positive transformation can occur out of uncomfortable changes and even out of damage and destruction. The fading of sweet chestnut and bramble flowers would appear to be a negative development to anyone who didn’t know what the ultimate results would be; the closure of Platt Hall has not seemed like a positive either. However, Platt Hall has the potential to play an important role in the local area and perhaps those pestilent clothes moths will turn out to have been the catalyst for a really worthwhile transformation. One of the aspirations for Platt Hall in the coming years is that it could become a Climate Emergency Hub, which would be a source of information and a centre for action for local people. It may be possible to use the facilities to share skills such as repairing and upcycling clothing and other items, or to hold meetings to plan political action. In Platt Hall, the community may be able to work together to recapture some of the positives of lockdown life – enjoying nature, reducing traffic, improving air quality and making cycling and walking more appealing.

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