For the last 30 years I have been sculpting and painting a wide range of forms, from very three dimensional classical figures and reliefs to more abstract sculptures. I think because I suffer with severe dyslexia I instinctively try to simplify complex things to make them easier for me to understand, breaking natural forms into their basic components.
It was the death of Ricky 12 years ago which started the whole cat thing off. He was rather grumpy and better known as ‘donkey cat’ because he was enormous, but nevertheless a much loved feline companion who was very much part of the family in my lodgings. One day inevitably, as he thought he owned the street, he got hit by a car and was fatally injured. As a memorial I painted a simplified form of him in his garden.
I found that the simplified image brought me joy, where photographs just made me feel sad. This experience was also shared by the others who loved him. From time to time I continued to paint and sculpt other animals but it seems, of all our pets, the cat has an unmistakable iconic shape, even a young child’s drawing of a cat is recognisable.
Five years ago my own ‘Fat Cat’ died from poisoning while we were unavoidably living apart, I found this difficult to come to terms with. In his memory I painted a huge picture of cats, many of whom I knew personally.
This didn’t help me resolve how I was feeling so I set about trying to capture ‘Fat Cat’ in a relief (a flat sculpture where the design stands out from the surface of the clay).
Through the process of many versions I managed to work through my feelings and eventually arrived at what, to my own satisfaction I consider to be the essence of ‘cat’. I concluded that painting in the ‘garden backgrounds’ detracted from the focal character, so the background has also become simplified.
A year ago it became apparent that the cat relief’s were an aspect of my work that other people related to and enjoyed. Several people suggested that I make individual customised cat relief’s available as bespoke pieces of art work for people who wanted to own a joyful reminder of their cats passed and present. Each cat relief takes about 10 hours to produce and is a labour of love.
So the concept of ‘Custom Cats’ has been born with the launch of this website. So wherever you might live in the world, I hope you will enjoy owning a bespoke and unique colourful representation of your own cat as a framed, painted, ceramic relief, carefully packaged and delivered to your door.
Please feel free to contact me: Rolfe Custom Cats or speak to Jane on 07949968276