Art comes in many forms in the 21st Century. One example of popular contemporary sculpture is the topiary, which sees greenery – usually shrubs or trees – trimmed to create instantly recognizable shapes. Animals are a common inspiration, with a British artist named Richard Saunders taking this to the next level.
Saunders, aged 75, has created a series named The Topiary Cat. This is topiary with a difference, though. Saunders is creating his art digitally, weaving a narrative that surrounds a fictional feline. The Topiary Cat is referred to as a wise creature that wields mystical powers, failing to understand the quirks and foibles of us mere mortals.
The inspiration for the creation was Tolly, a loyal and beloved pet. The adventures of the Topiary Cat began as a way for Saunders to celebrate this cat companion. Sadly, Tolly passed away in 2016, and like all animal lovers, Saunders was deeply saddened by his loss. Thankfully, artistic talent means that, while Tolly may be gone, he will never be forgotten.
Saunders started out creating his art for his own amusement. Snapping shots of some greenery, Saunders hit upon the idea of shaping them on his computer to resemble Tolly. Over time, the image gained an audience online – albeit without credit to Saunders. The garden-dwelling critter came to mainstream consciousness through Facebook, when an image went so viral that the master website crashed.
The BBC picked up on the interest and broke the news to surprised enthusiasts that the image was created on a computer. Having worked in advertising for many years, Saunders was proficient in Adobe Photoshop. Combining these skills with his history as a surrealist painter, The Topiary Cat was born.
Since this time, Saunders’ work has grown increasingly complex. Now, it can take him several days to develop a new Topiary Cat piece. Interest keeps this effort worthwhile, though – and there is no denying that interest remains high. Today, postcards of Saunders’ art can be purchased, and a fantasy novel is impending.
Perhaps best of all, the Topiary Cat is no longer alone. He now shares his escapades with another Saunders creation, Georgi – a Russian Blue. Naturally, Georgi has taken inspiration from real life, just like his older, wiser mentor. The real-life critter is now four years old and is living a happy life with his human owner. Just like the Topiary Cat, he is sure to live forever in the hearts and minds of art lovers across the world.
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