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WHEN sur­re­al­ist artist Richard Saun­ders took a pho­to­graph of some ab­stract topiary at Hall Barn in Bea­cons­field, he had no idea of the vi­ral sen­sa­tion he would cre­ate.

But five years later and Mr Saun­ders has im­mor­talised his beloved pet cat Tolly in a se­ries of mag­i­cal im­ages which have achieved wide­spread fame on the in­ter­net.

Dubbed The Topiary Cat, it all came about when Mr Saun­ders snapped cloud-style topiary at the his­toric Bucks coun­try house which he said ‘sug­gested a sleep­ing an­i­mal by the lake’.

Mar­ry­ing that im­age to­gether with one he took of Tolly, he cre­ated a mag­i­cal work of art that soon be­came a hit on the web, but unattributed and with his name cropped out some peo­ple took it to be real. The orig­i­nal mon­taged im­age is not the only one to have been a vi­ral hit as some sub­se­quent works have had well over three mil­lion hits.

Each photo mar­ries an im­age of Tolly, a Rus­sian Blue cat, with ex­ist­ing scenery which is then edited to look like gi­ant cat-style topiary, although with a sur­re­al­ist bent.

Tolly has now sadly died but as each im­age of the Topiary Cat is in­spired by him and be­cause of the hun­dreds of photos Mr Saun­ders took of him, Tolly is sure to live on. Mr Saun­ders said: “I will only do topiary vari­a­tions of Tolly, as it is my trib­ute to his mem­ory, de­spite many peo­ple ask­ing me to do ver­sions of their own pets.”

Each im­age is cre­ated on Pho­to­shop, and can take any­thing from one day to three days, de­pend­ing on ‘com­plex­ity’, ac­cord­ing to Mr Saun­ders.

“I have been some­what be­mused by the suc­cess of the im­ages,” he said. “I did it for fun, not for com­mer­cial gain and was fas­ci­nated to see its meta­mor­pho­sis from a sim­ple idea to an In­ter­net phe­nom­e­non.”

The Topiary Cat can be found at www.thetopi­arycat.co.uk or on Facebook – search for The Topiary Cat.


In­spi­ra­tion: The orig­i­nal im­age of The Topiary Cat, taken at Hall Barn Bea­cons­field

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