Surreal artist Richard Saunders has been able to make a living out of his passion. And as if that wasn’t enough, he has also combined his love for art with his love for his cat, Tolly, into a project called The Topiary Cat. This project consists of a series of photo-montages that show giant topiaries in the shape of his late majestical Russian Blue.
Richard SaundersThe Topiary Cat
The Topiary Cat was initially created as a fun way for Richard Saunders to show his admiration for his beloved cat, Tolly. After taking a photograph of a huge cloud topiary, it occurred to Saunders that he could photograph Tolly in a position that would match the shape of the bushes.
However, that innocent fun started off on the wrong foot. Saunders posted the image on Flickr but it was stolen and ended up on a Facebook page that claimed it was a “real” topiary. Thousands of hits were garnered from this post, and none acknowledged Saunders’ image creation.
Things started looking up when someone at the BBC noticed Saunders’ work and, intrigued, did a story for their page online. The image of The Topiary Cat drinking from a lake at Painshill Park went viral. It had over 3 million likes on its Facebook page, and the Topiary Cat website crashed due to the overwhelming number of hits. Saunders and Tolly became an overnight success.
For Saunders, art has always been his destiny. He began creating surreal pieces as a teenager and the now 75-year-old artist continues to create masterpieces both for The Topiary Cat Project as well as for his surrealist website.
After Tolly died, Saunders was too upset to consider continuing with The Topiary Cat, but his 40,000 followers on Facebook persuaded him to carry on. Thanks to their messages of encouragement, Saunders has found that his art helps others when their own furry companions pass on.
Tolly’s adventures continue and he is now accompanied by another Russian Blue, named “GK” (Georgi Kitten). His topiary mentor claims that Tolly’s alter ego in the images is rather mischievous. Saunders has also been able to make his art more interactive and to engage his followers through puzzles, 3D images, and now a short novel about to be published, entitled, unsurprisingly, The Topiary Cat.
Which pic do you believe best captures Tolly’s essence? If you have pets and adore them as much as Saunders adored Tolly, please share their pics with us.