WHEN looking at Mikaela Castledine’s Sculpture by the Sea piece it may seem like she’s a ‘crazy cat lady’ but that’s not the case.
Instead, the Kalamunda sculptor said she was making a point about humanity’s relationship to animals and the ideologies people project on them.
For her fifth Cottesloe exhibition, Mrs Castledine has created ‘Feral’ which includes 15 crocheted black cats of various shapes and sizes made out of plastic raffia sourced from Italy.
The mother-of-two developed her idea for the piece while on holiday in Egypt where her interest in the importance cats had in ancient history grew.
Mrs Castledine, who has a new pet cat named Pip, said learning about people’s relationships to cats was odd because they would either think they’re good or bad, nothing in between.
“In ancient Egypt they deified them or thought of them as gods but then there was also the mummification of cats which was a big industry ,” she said.
“They needed to have mummified cats at their funeral so they would breed cats for the purpose of mummifying them to sell.
“Both of those things are really odd; making them into gods and breeding them for that purpose.”
When British and French settlers went to Egypt in the 1800s, they dug up the mummified cats which they either ground into fertiliser or used as firewood.
It’s actions like these that Mrs Castledine said fascinated her and made her think that people were weird and that people from different cultures projected binary ideas about animals, in particular cats.
“Cats are just being cats but there’s all these things that people attribute to them or do with them,” she said.
“In China there are waving lucky cats or they’ll be eaten.
“In Australia they are either you’re cosseted baby or they’re feral.
“When people look at these cats of mine they go ‘aw that’s just like my cat’ but they don’t even see that they are called feral cats and that some of them are eating things and still in their mind they go ‘aw that’s okay because they’re cute’ which I find really interesting.”
Although Pip isn’t her “cosseted” child, Mrs Castledine’s Feral cats did feel somewhat like babies after having worked on them for nine months with each developing their own identity and character.
Despite creating Feral with “intention” and making the cats black, attributing them to bad luck and witchcraft, Mrs Castledine said what people took away from her pieces was unique to the individual.
“What you always want as an artist is for people to think,” she said.
“I am not making a statement about feral animals, I’m trying to make a point about how human beings are with animals and how it’s not the animal itself but it’s what we project on to the animal.
“When you make a piece of artwork, you have to have the intention but when you’ve made it is its own thing and what people take from it is entirely up to them.”
The 14th Sculpture by the Sea exhibition in Cottesloe runs from March 2-19.