A catalogue of cats

Corrina Rothwell

You may be vaguely aware of the fact that I Do Cats. Recently you probably feel like you're being haunted by my damn cats. I know! They're everywhere! Sorry, by the way, if you don't like cats. 

I was looking for something today and I came across a photo of a piece of textile art that I did in 2000 called Death By Cat Fur. It featured in my very first textiles exhibition at Pizza Express in Hockley, Nottingham. It made me smile and think of the good friend, sadly recently departed, who I barely knew then and whose partner bought it for her. I digress - but it got me thinking about how cats have always cropped up in my artwork over the years and I thought it'd be fun to dig some of them out and do a little review. Fun for me, anyway - it might well bore you to death. But that would be better way to go than by choking on cat fur, at least. 

The first traceable incidence of cat occurred in 1992 when I made an appliqued wall hanging. I remember being so bloody chuffed with it that I ran down the street (I was living in Hebden Bridge at the time) to show a friend. He was seriously underwhelmed which I found to be a bit of a bummer. 

Nonetheless I persevered and had a bit of a run on this particular theme of cat/table/additional item. I can't remember if I did the painted one (the orange one) before or after the textile ones. Never mind. I'm really old. It happens.


Shortly after this spate of applique I spent a few weeks on an art foundation course in Rochdale. I left after that time because basically I don't like being told what to do. I did learn, however, that you could draw with a sewing machine which I found very exciting. No stranger to sewing machines over the years, my mum taught me to use one, I launched myself at the medium. My first embroidered was - yes, you guessed it - a cat! Under a table! With an additional item!

There seems to be evidence of only one more 'proper picture' with a cat in it from that embroidery period, which is the one below. I was heavily influenced by the likes of Matisse, Klee and Dufy at the time.

I also had an intense papier mache period in the mid 90s which included, for some bizarre reason, a cat waste paper basket (beware! It is ugly!) and this strange-looking wall piece. 

My cats started off being quite sweet and decorative, but they gradually degenerated over the years (see Death By Cat Fur). By the early 2000s my cats were starting to look distinctly aggressive and possibly riddled with mange.

A spate of purses and bags involved some pretty rough-looking moggies....

...and some rather unfortunate ones.

Towards the end of my embroidery phase my cats calmed down a bit, although they still tended to have a malevolent edge. I started to include words in my images, ditched the colour because I just couldn't be arsed with all that stitching any more, and began to bring humour into my pieces. 

When I became truly pissed off with stitching these images time and time again, I got them printed as cards instead.

And of course these evolved into the cards you know and love today! 

Last year when I started painting again, I didn't know what to paint. I'd seen a video on Facebook of a kitten watching a horror movie. Its range of expressions absolutely fascinated me and inspired me to paint cats' faces with great expressions....

....which led to the prints, and the cushions, and the coasters...and I'm sure there will be more cat-related fripperies to come!

This catalogue wouldn't be complete without the inclusion of the two cats I've been lucky enough to have in my life. Candy (left) who was my childhood cat and Minnie who I had in my 20s and 30s. 

No new cats on the horizon at the moment - in the meantime I borrow my next door neighbour's cat Buster. Or rather, he borrows my sofa! 

I hope you've enjoyed this catty journey of mine. Or maybe you've been driven to distraction and are at this very moment lurking in the garden with a wolf mask on, scaring away any feline visitors.....

Until next time!