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Communicating Through Cats Review

Steff Lever delves into the mind of Louis Wain, and what a strange mind it is

Written by . Published on September 21st 2011.

Communicating Through Cats Review

COMMUNICATING through Cats: The Art and Mind of Louis Wain exhibition, is situated at the Brentwood Museum in London. Wain is best known for his distinctive humanistic drawings of cats, and became a household name at the turn of the twentieth century. His work has been described by many critics as ‘charming’, ‘humorous’ but also ‘disturbed’, and for these mixed reasons alone, it’s caught our eye.

Over the past 100 years, it’s fair to say that Louis Wain’s work has been received in a variety of ways. The concept of Communicating Through Cats was the artist’s unusual way to explore the world during his life, which was later discovered to have been one riddled with tragedy and mental illness. Therefore, the different drawings of the cats in the exhibition are meant to reflect the different fashions of the time and Wain’s outlook on life. However, to those of us with ‘non-artistic’ eyes, this exhibition is in essence, a room full of cat drawings. Wain incorporates some slightly comical elements too, as he weaves in simple captions underneath his drawings such as, ‘I am happy because everyone loves me’ beneath a drawing of a smiling cat.

Furthermore, the museum encourages us to respond to the drawings and to reflect on what we have observed. For instance, the exhibition asks the audience certain questions such as, ‘what cat interests you most and why?’ To be honest, we get the feeling that it’s all a little bit strange, especially when these cats have just essentially been personified – Wain must have had a very troubled life indeed. Though, the mix of responses is certainly interesting to say the least, and it seems that many people have been involved. Besides the Brent Museum, the exhibition has included work selected and supplied by Chris Beetles Gallery, and loans from the Bethlem Art and History Collections Trust and The Wellcome Library. It appears that, if anything, intrigue will certainly encourage people to visit this exhibition.

The Art and Mind of Louis Wain, is definitely aimed at a niche audience. However, it can be enjoyed by absolutely anyone until the 29 October. The free admission along with the family events that are hosted by the museum, are a great addition to experiencing Louis Wain. An upcoming event, which we all can attend, is on Thursday 6 October, and is going to celebrate World Mental Health Day, and there will be a panel to discuss the significance of Louis Wain’s work in the 21st century. For more details please see the link below.

For more information visit the museum's site



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