Topiary Cat–The fictional landscape character the world wishes was real.
Topiary Cat has taken the world, or shall we say, the internet by storm.
The result of a photo-montage created by Surrealist Richard Saunders, in honor of his pet cat Tolly, many instances of a large, lush green topiary* in the shape of a cat, have been digitally inserted into images of the English countryside, the artist's garden, and on a beach in Essex.
Despite information to the contrary, 25 % percent of the people who have seen these pictures (and the numbers run in the millions), truly believe that the beautiful, feline topiary forms are real.
Such is the charm of these skillfully photoshopped landscapes, the star of which is, of course, the large green, plant-covered cat.
Personally, though, the beauty of the Topiary Cat doesn’t lie in the illusion of its reality; It lies in the cat’s generation of ‘place’ in each of the images and sites it is set in, no matter how imaginary it’s status.
*Topiary- of, relating to, or being the practice or art of training, cutting, and trimming trees or shrubs into odd or ornamental shapes; also: characterized by such work
As a landscape architect, I can vouch for the fascination and intrigue this creature-of-the-garden generates. I can easily imagine myself walking softly around the sleeping Tolly in Hall Barn, Beaconsfield ( seen above), gently running my hands over it's fuzzy, planted form.
I can visualize a group of young children playing and edging close to the water to prod at Tolly’s face as he sips from the lake in Painshill Park, Surrey, England (below). The Topiary Cat has the potential to create a real, engaging and mystical landscape.
The real win for this series of Surrealist montages is how badly some of us would like to them come to life.
Topiary has taken many forms over the years and evolved with the discipline of Landscape Architecture. Far Eastern topiary and Renaissance topiary created beautifully crafted shapes before topiary was again transformed at Disneyland in the 1960's, as it became 'portable' in nature.
Throughout this history, though, we have yet to see forms trimmed out of plants and shrubs, which come to life in such a way, as Topiary Cat. No design for topiary has ever been so animated and has invoked so many reactions from viewers.
We leave this article on the unanimous hope that a fellow landscape Architect will very soon take Topiary Cat from montage to tangible, reality!
Disclaimer: Images from http://www.thetopiarycat.co.uk/, and Richard Saunders via Pinterest