I first met my cousin Mary Funk-Butterworth (Instagram @maryfunkart) 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.
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.
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. Mary said we would swap plant cuttings. Oh yes.
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.
I would fill my home with Mary’s art if we were in the same country.
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.