Many of us know the feeling when you just terribly miss a pet you used to have. I sure do, even got a tattoo of my cat! However, 75-year-old Richard Saunders took it to a whole new level. The artist decided to express love for his cat, who died 5 years ago, by creating extremely surprising surreal images. In these images, plants from real places are replaced by giant bushes in the shape of his adorable cat Tolly.
Richard Saunders exclusively told Bored Panda the story behind his project named “The Topiary Cat”: “Initially I created these images just for fun. I had taken a photograph, in the grounds of a historic house, of a huge cloud topiary, and it occurred to me that I could fairly easily photograph Tolly in a position to match the shape of the bushes.”
Richard claims that after making the first image and posting it on Flickr, it was stolen and his name was removed without any approval. The image ended up going viral on Facebook and people believed it to be a real topiary! Later, BBC did a story for their page and revealed Richard to be the real creator of these manipulations as he made more and more of them.
Richard has been a surrealist painter since he was a teenager and learned to use Photoshop over two decades ago in his job as an advertising Creative Director. He says: “The idea of creating The Topiary Cat, over eight years ago, while Tolly was still alive, was easily accomplished with skills I already knew. The images have become more complicated since, many taking days to produce, with tailor-made photos taken especially for them.”
After Tolly died in 2016, Richard was too upset to consider continuing with The Topiary Cat, but his 40,000 followers on Facebook persuaded him to carry on. Richard believes that it helps them when their own furry companions pass on.
The Topiary Cat has grown into quite the enterprise. Richard now also creates puzzles, 3D images, and a novel, of which he has done a reading on YouTube, chapter by chapter. So The Topiary Cat’s adventures continue, Tolly is now accompanied by another Russian Blue named Georgi.
When asked, which of his creations is his personal favorite, Richard says it’s usually the latest one. As for general inspiration, Richard says he is influenced by many other artists. Some of his all-time favorites are Dalí followed by Max Ernst, then the Pre-Raphaelites.
Creator admitted to Bored Panda that most people he meets love The Topiary Cat, initially disappointed the creations aren't “real”, then they convert quickly to devotees of the continuing story. The future of the project depends on the reception to the book “The Topiary Cat” which is being produced in very limited quantities at first as a test of the market.