This week our artist feature is with the lovely Cat-Rabbit who is well known for her wonderful and whimsical textile/plush label amongst many other achievements. In 2011 Cat had her first solo exhibition "Secret Animal Realms" at No Vacancy Gallery which included one of her earliest collaborations with Melbourne animator Isobel knowles. She has also exhibited in numerous group exhibitions both nationally and internationally, featured in many online and print publications such as Frankie Magazine, The Design Files, The Age Newspaper and participated many times in design markets such as Craft Hatched, Markit and Finders Keepers.
Most recently however Cat has collaborated again with Isobel Knowles to create the beautiful children's book Owl Know How which has seen great success and led to another exhibition at No Vacancy gallery, book readings by Clare Bowditch at Outre Gallery, and workshops at Harvest Textiles.
All images in this interview are provided by and copyright of Cat-Rabbit.
Tell us a little about yourself and your art/design background
My name is Cat and I have a textile/plush art label called Cat-Rabbit. It began quite modestly, around 6 years ago, when I started making (very basic) felt toys based on the little characters I would draw between my lecture notes at University. I gifted them to friends and family, and sold them in the little craft and design shops that were starting to pop up at the time.
I studied at University in Hobart, completing Honours and Masters in Contemporary Arts before I realised that all I wanted to do was keep sewing. I received an Artstart grant from the Australian Council and was able to set up a studio and turn my attention to making things full-time. It still amazes (and mystifies) me that I am able to call this my full time profession, I'm still waiting for the catch.
What led you to use embroidery in your work?
Primarily, embroidery plays an illustrative part in my work. I love to draw, and incorporate it into my work however I can. With embroidery I can adapt my illustrations to a textile medium - it allows me to add the next level of detail to my work - at the moment I am particularly enjoying embroidering patterns onto any spare felt surface I can find. One of my favourite things to shop for is embroidery floss and cotton, all those colours all lined up is overwhelming and exciting and gives me little heart flutters.
Could you talk a little about the process of creating your work?
I usually spend as much time as I can afford drawing out my ideas and writing lists and little thoughts until I have a good handle on the project I'm working on. From there, the making process is quite sculptural I guess - I don't use a pattern as such, just cut out pieces and sew them together until I have the shapes I want. The embroidery and embellishments usually come last, and I keep working until it looks like a finished product to me. Lately I have been enjoying working in little series - sloths, turtles and coming soon are some wintery rabbits. I like the idea of making a little group of characters, to keep each other company I guess.
Can you tell us a little about your inspirations?
I am inspired by that lingering childhood daydream that animals have secret worlds where they wear clothes, have underground houses, town meetings and read the newspaper.