Why am I Cat’s Eye Carving?

17 January, 2023 – 10:03 am

When I moved to Gloucestershire to take up my apprenticeship at Gloucester Cathedral, I was asked to design a stonemason’s mark. This mark now appears on everything I carve and it can be found on all the pieces that I carved for Gloucester Cathedral.

A little over 30 years ago I was studying sculpture as one of my A-level subjects at Sir Roger Manwood’s school in Sandwich, Kent.

I grew up on a farm and we had 4 cats at that time, I loved ancient Egypt and school trips took us to London regularly and I visited the British Museum to draw and study the Egyptian cats.

This inspired my A-level exam piece, I made fake papyrus by staining and marking water colour paper and then writing my essay on there, I tried to understand Hieroglyphs by visiting Sandwich library.

I am not sure whether any of this has survived as it’s in a portfolio with some of my other artwork in a collapsed shed on My Mum and Dad’s Farm.

The sculptural side of my final piece was a collection of cats, sculpted in different ways, the first one was out of modroc, over a wire frame and muddied up with clay. I wanted it to look like a mummified cat. This first cat is trying to get back through the mirror to Egypt but there is another cat coming out of the mirror to attack it. I removed some of the silvering in the form of triangles from the back of the mirror and painted scenes from Egypt. The cat coming out of the mirror was carved out of plaster of Paris, with Rose thorns for it’s teeth and claws. I used to sit in my Physics class with a plastic ice-cream tub on my lap carving with a scalpel because I didn’t want to do anything else.

The Eye on my mummified cat in the first picture is where my Cat’s Eye comes from for my Stonemason’s mark.

The second cat was walking across a mirror with ancient pyramids and sand attached to the surface, to give the impression that it was walking across the desert, I sculpted and carved the cat out of plaster and then treated her with a gold finish.

The final cat was in a pyramid that I made out of old denim that I sewed together, I painted a cat on this and attached it to bamboo canes, in the middle of this was a cat that I sculpted out of wax onto a bottle. This stood in the middle. I eventually cut the denim down and used the bamboo in the garden so I only have a photo of the cut out cat.

This exhibition along with all the other art students took place in St Peter’s Church in the heart of Sandwich. During the Summer of 2021, I took part in the Folk and Ale festival in Sandwich and I explained this to my boyfriend Ed, after he had heard my story, he pointed out that this is where Cat’s Eye Carving was born.

I am really proud to say that I was commissioned to carve a lintel piece for a house on the High Street in Sandwich in Kent, so my stonemason’s mark has come home.