This past year has been incredibly difficult for many of us and as I have spent a great deal of time at home I began thinking about the bond I have with the animals that I live with. My cats have been extremely important to me and have helped me cope. I live with my family, but nothing can beat a cat hug, no talking, just unconditional love, and cat hugs are the best.
As part of my research, I have been reading ‘A Street Cat Named Bob’, which is about the affection and bond humans can have with domesticated animals. The story is about a man named James that helps an injured stray cat, and this gives him a purpose in life. James is a drug addict and looking after Bob gives him a reason to quit and get clean. This is a salvation story and one where they save each other. This had a strong impact on me and I wanted to show that bond in my work. My relationship with my cats is very different from that of James but there are direct connections. I have a symbiotic relationship with my cats, I understand them and they understand me.
I wanted to make a body of work that would celebrate this bond but also try to get a deeper understanding of what this relationship means. To do this I decided to make a series of artworks using embroidery, as it is a process that lives in the home and demonstrates the affection I have through the craft. Some of the pieces respond to quotes from the book and also incorporate images of me with my cat. Another large embroidery collage is about my 12 cats, as a tableau or group portrait. As my work has got larger I have had to find new ways to display it. I am currently working on hanging them all together, directly onto the wall.
As part of my research, I have been looking at various artists that have cats as the subject in their work, or have devoted their time and work to make the cat the main focus. I have researched Caliari Paolo, Edouard Manet, Balthus, Salvador Dali, Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henriette Ronner-Knip, Jules le Roy.
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