Cats of the Roman Empire

For this week’s blog post, we asked Outside In artist Steve Murison to write a bit about his ‘Cats of the Roman Empire.’ Here, he describes why he first started relentlessly painting and drawing furry felines, and why he leaves many of his pieces out in the open for the taking.

cats of the roman empire 1

“I used to fixate on a very specific shape, I called it a lizard. Picture a traditional shield with a crown atop, silhouetted.  It dominated my early artwork, it became an irresistible template for almost everything I made. It also drove me slightly crazy. One day, in an attempt to break from this mindset, I drew a cat. Everything spiraled from there. At one point every single board, piece of paper and sketchbook page had a cat on it. I loved it and hated it. A furry, purring vortex of my own design. I toyed with only making cat art for an entire year, to get it out of my system. I toyed with banning myself from cats. In the end I decided to make endless, small cardboard beasts alongside my larger art pieces, so I could get the fixation out of my head and away. Anytime I sit painting skulls, coffins, slime filled tombs and i feel a cat creeping into the frame I grab a piece of card and hastily create a feline, without consideration or thought. Some consume a few hours, some five minutes. I just go with the process, let it flow, enjoy the moment. ghost cats

I’ve always left art out in the wilds for folk to find so it was entirely natural to set these little furfaced allies free. It perfectly fits with the letting go, with the release. So I package them in cling film and leave them dotted about on my travels. Sometimes I gift them to folk on rare occasion but generally the only way you’ll get one is to brave the outside world and open your eyes. I post them up on my Instagram account, not as a treasure hunt, more as a document to the transient act itself. Off you go little kitty, tup tup.” more more cats

More information…


Free Art Friday (FAF) Reading about Steve Murison and his work made us think of Free Art Fridays – an initiative we discovered a while back. Free Art Fridays encourages artists to leave art work out for passers-by to pick up for free. Although artists have been leaving art out for many years, My Dog Sighs is credited with starting this movement after coining the phrase ‘Free Art Fridays.’ After several years of leaving work out, he started a Flickr group for the movement. Here’s how to join in:

  • Create a piece of art.
  • Write on an attached tag “Free art, the take home and enjoy.” (Adding your name, email or website is optional).
  • Place the piece somewhere in public (indoors or outdoors).
  • Some make a game out of it and leave clues on Twitter.
  • It’s not an exclusive movement – and anyone can join in!

Click here for more information on Free Art Fridays

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