We want to share with you some inspiring people we have come across on our own creative journey and share an insight into their creative practices, inspirations and projects.
The first creative maker we’d like to introduce you to is Cat Rabbit.
Cat’s work first caught our attention when we spotted her creations in Lunch Lady Magazine, each playful, gentle and soulful character she creates tells a story of its own and allows your imagination to run wild. We love that Cat embraces everyday situations and brings them to life through her felt characters but also the worlds in which they live, allowing you to see everyday moments from a different perspective.
To start with, can you please describe what is your practice about, and the materials you work with?
I’m a textile artist working predominantly with felt and recycled fabrics. I like to make different characters and the worlds they might live in - from roller skating poodles to cosy autumnal toads in comfy armchairs. I like to create scenes that provoke a feeling of warmth and comfort. The process is quite sculptural - I don’t use a pattern, instead preferring to make it up as I go along. This also means that each piece is one of a kind.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, and how did you get to do what you do now?
I grew up on the North-West Coast of Tasmania and then moved to Hobart to study. While at uni, I hand stitched very basic little felt cats and rabbits in my spare time and gave them to my friends. It was around 2007 I think that I started selling them in small shops around Hobart, and it kind of coincided with the renewed appreciation for the handmade that was happening at the time. From there, craft markets got more popular and I started selling my work at those and exhibiting more and more. As time went on, my designs and characters got more complex as I learned new techniques and experimented with new characters. My practice grew very slowly as a side project until I eventually moved to Melbourne to see if I could try it as a full time profession. I learned to take photos of my work and developed my practice so it could have more applications than just selling a product - such as editorial illustration, animation and books. I met and collaborated with my dear friend Isobel Knowles who is a magical person and artist who has taught me so much. We have made books, artworks and animations together under the name Soft Stories, and I’ve also now made a book of my own. It’s been a slow but mostly happy path to where I am now, and I hope to keep growing in this slow but sure way.
Are there any clear influences in your life (during childhood, or growing up) that inspired you to work with textile and felt/plush characters?
I think tv and books that I watched and read as a child have really informed my character designs. I really love Japanese character design - as a kid I watched a lot of animations - Sailor Moon and Astro Boy, and then as a I got older I discovered Studio Ghibli and my mind was blown. There was also Richard Scarry’s Busy World books and of course Beatrix Potter in general. I also really love stop motions such as Wallace and Gromit and, very especially, the Paddington Bear stop motion that was made in the 1970s - I’m still enchanted by these episodes and watch them regularly. I like to include nods to all of these beloved characters throughout my work- wether it be on a character’s sweatshirt or a tiny toy they are carrying. It feels like I’m honouring their influence on my work, but also I find people really connect with these references as it reminds them of their own childhood.
How do you take your work out to the world?
I shift between making work for exhibitions and making small series’ of plush for my online store. I also enjoy making editorial work when it comes up, as well as books for children. I’m always interested to find new applications for my work, and I love animating my characters in my amateurish way, and posting them as stories on my instagram page - I like the idea that everyone can have the chance to enjoy them and these characters can tell a small snippet of a happy story before I send them on their way.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you’d like to share with us?
I’ve just finished installing a big exhibition for Bayside Gallery in Brighton called ‘The Soft Library’ - it opens on the 5th of November and It’s basically a big felt fan art dedicated to libraries and the wonder they contain. I’ve also just released a new book for children called ‘How to Make Friends: A Bear’s Guide’ out now through Berbay Books.
If you’d like to find out more about Cat Rabbit head to her website - www.catrabbit.net
Check out The Soft Library here
And grab a copy of Cat’s beautiful book “ How to Make Friends: A Bear’s Guide” Here