Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

The internet has fallen in love with this topiary cat

cat.jpg

In a time when we are increasingly overwhelmed by images at every turn, it’s rare for one of them to captivate us quite so much. And yet, here we are, with the internet’s latest viral image: Topiary Cat.

That’s right, photographs of bushes pruned into the shape of cats have been circulating the internet – and it’s all down to a man called Richard Saunders, and a misunderstanding.

Saunders, 69, a surrealist artist basted in Hertfordshire, was inspired by a visit to Hall Barn in Beaconsfield where he saw a topiary hedge shaped like a cloud, that brought to mind the form of his Russian Blue cat, Tolly, while sleeping.

When he returned from his visit, Saunders took to Photoshop to manipulate the cloud hedge into the form of Tolly. Not long after, the Amazing Places Facebook page presented the image as if it were a real topiary cat. The image garnered 30,000 likes.

topiary cat

“This montaged image became spread on the internet, unattributed and with my name cropped out, claimed as a real 'amazing' place. Subsequent images have gone even more viral, one having had well over three million hits.

“It seems that people want to believe that the cats are real,” Saunders tells indy100.

The artist had been painting surrealist images for years, inspired by Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst and Arthur Rackham, before he started on Photoshop.

Saunders continues to create what he calls “surrealist photographic montages,” in which he changes real-life bushes into ones that look like perfectly manicured versions of Tolly. The artist uses Photoshop to match the light sources between real landscapes and existing photographs he has of his beloved Tolly.

cat

Some of these images appear as if feline-shaped bushes are standing erect on stately home promenades, reclining by the sea or even leaning over to drink from lakes.

The image of a cat drinking from the lake at Painshill, Surrey, was seen by 3.5m people on Facebook.

“I'm fascinated by how things go viral - I never planned to make any money out of the project. It's just a bit of fun,” Saunders tells the BBC.

The images have proven hugely popular- no doubt because of their life-like appearance, and have been shared all over social media.

cat

Saunders says that people are often disappointed to learn that the images aren’t real, but that “I’d rather be known for my art than my deception.”

Sadly, the real Tolly died, aged 12 in February this year, but Saunders took so many photographs of the Russian Blue – whom he describes as “quite a character”- that he continues to inspire his work.

Saunders himself is a keen gardener – so we can only hope that one day he brings his images – and bush Tolly - to life. 

Images: Richard Saunders.

You can see more images of the Topiary Cat on Saunder's dedicated website.

Related

Main suncream all skin tones.jpg

Why every single skin tone should embrace sun protection this summer

iStock_000091479671_Medium.jpg

Lucy Mangan on the legal precedent for psychological abuse

SoloTravelMain_rt.jpg

Flying solo: five top tips for going it alone

amber heard granted domestic violence restraining order johnny depp divorce.jpg

Amber Heard granted restraining order against Johnny Depp

SHERYLSANDBURG444_rt.jpg

Sheryl Sandberg: on a mission to change women's lives via business

jodie foster.jpg

Jodie Foster opens up about her fear of failure

Main_rt.jpg

Stylist talks work and ambition with Broadchurch’s Jodie Whittaker

iStock_000079404861_Medium.jpg

Three cheers for cake: the clean eating backlash is here

eva longoria.png

This week's best A-list Instagrams

Comments

More

Revealed: the original idea for Disney's Frozen was far darker

The animated ode to sisterhood started off far more sinister

30 Mar 2017

Quiz: which Buffy the Vampire Slayer character are you?

It’s time to find out your place in the Scooby Gang, once and for all…

by Kayleigh Dray
30 Mar 2017

This proposal post makes an important point about how we use Facebook

He "proposed" nine times in a day

by Hayley Spencer
30 Mar 2017

Revealed: the best language for English speakers to learn

If you're thinking of taking lessons this might make your mind up

30 Mar 2017

A pizza playground is coming to London

Everyone's going to want a slice of this (sorry)

by Hayley Spencer
30 Mar 2017

These tweets will remind you why Muslim Women's day was needed

Social media users wanted to remind everyone why Muslim women's voices need amplifying

30 Mar 2017

Netflix now lets you request the shows you actually want to watch

Time to make your feelings known.

by Moya Crockett
30 Mar 2017

The Glastonbury line-up has been confirmed

Male acts outnumber female 62 to 24.

by Hayley Spencer
30 Mar 2017

Reese's have created a peanut butter creme egg

The ultimate Easter treat?

by Sarah Biddlecombe
30 Mar 2017

The top 5 food and drink trends you’ll be seeing at weddings this year

The rise of the brunch wedding (we’re on board)

by Amy Swales
30 Mar 2017