Mary Funk artist illustrator pottery painting watercolour

Mary Funk, Artist & Illustrator

I first met my cousin Mary Funk-Butterworth ten years ago in London. Then, she was an accountant. The following year, she completed a Masters in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art, and took up pottery. She’s never looked back.

We were two fortysomething women, getting to know each other over big, brightly glazed mugs of coffee in a trendy cafe with red brick walls, chalk on blackboard, and cosy textiles in reds and yellows.

Did I mention piano to Mary? No.

Did Mary mention art to me? No.

watercolour fairies children's book illustration
Fairies by Mary Funk
keesvandongen vandongen ceramics handpainted
A Van Dongen-inspired bud vase ready for first firing by Mary Funk-Butterworth

Our respective journeys to pursue long-held dreams were yet to begin. We were in the here and now. It was a grey day in London, and we didn’t know each other well.

A trio of hand-built bud vases with Klimt-inspired painting styles, by Mary Funk
A trio of hand-built bud vases with Klimt-inspired painting styles, by Mary Funk

I later settled in Australia and we have not met since. Now we say how cool it would be to live next door to each other. Mary would paint and I would play.

Earlier this year, Mary painted three watercolours for my music room. One is me as a little girl, the second is playing piano in a hotel, and the third is teaching my first student in Australia. They’re still wrapped, propped up on the piano. I need time to think about framing them and where they should go. Mary’s art is in my music room!

Below is Mary’s painting of me as a child. My late mother would have loved this. When I look at it I feel I am seeing myself as my mother saw me.

I used the student-teacher painting to make a business card. It is also the feature of my Lessons page.

Mary captures perfectly the tenderness of sharing music with a child. Jess is still my student, and has just entered high school. She saw the business card and said, “Oh my gosh, I’m famous!” Then took a few to give her grandparents.

Here it is with the photo that inspired the original painting. We were playing a duet.

Here are more beautiful things made by Mary.

Putney School Of Art and Design ceramics handmade goldenbees bees
Handmade plates with gold bees made by Mary Funk, exhibited at the Putney Exchange, London

I would fill my home with Mary’s art if we were in the same country.

Hand-made porcelain dishes with hand-drawn little dogs in the snow by Mary Funk-Butterworth. For sale at the Putney School of Art and Design Christmas Fair
Hand-made porcelain dishes with hand-drawn little dogs in the snow by Mary Funk. For sale at the Putney School of Art and Design Christmas Fair 2017

I love this dog!

In a message, Mary said:

“This cheeky chappie was a friend’s dog. A Springer Spaniel. I have been commissioned to do a huge Newfoundland dog to be ready for October. It’s a sweet giant.”

Life is full of possibility and Mary is an inspiration to all of us who follow our dreams later in life.

Thank you for your art and the love that you put into it, Mary. I’m honoured to be your cousin.

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