An ode to the Gocco medium with Cat Rabbit June 01 2017

Cat Rabbit is a Melbourne based textile artist and designer who works out of a studio in the Nicholas building and also does sewing in her home studio, with the company of her cat Porco. She makes plush sculptural works of my imagined characters and the worlds they might live in. 

Cat Rabbit will be exhibiting at Outre Gallery on June 16. This exhibition will be an ode to the Gocco medium and will feature a tutorial of some of her characters making their very own Gocco prints.

We met with Cat Rabbit in her studio to see into her magical world, learning about how she makes her characters, where she draws inspiration and what she has in store for us in her next exhibition!

Initially you drew cute characters, then they came to life as plush creatures, what drove this transition?

I have always enjoyed sewing, so turning my drawn characters into plush felt like a natural progression for me. I was also interested in finding a way for the characters to become ‘more real’ for people - something they could hold and keep with them, unlike a drawing or print that is stuck on a wall and viewed. Initially the characters I made were just humble gifts for good friends - a little token of comfort really. It’s the tangibility of textiles that attracts me.

The colours in your work are so bright - where do you draw your inspiration?

I enjoy all colours, so I include all colours. Purple and I had a falling out after my teenage years, but we’re working through it now. What I enjoy most of all is the unexpected colour combinations that come from having to use the last of the scraps or being given a giant stash of puce corduroy and trying to find a use for it. My inspiration for colours come from everywhere! I recently visited Sri Lanka and was so inspired by the bright colours that homes are painted there - aqua, hot pink, bright yellow! Beautiful!

What is it like in your studio, could you describe a typical day in there for you?

I have a home studio that I make most of my plush and textile work from, and a studio in the Nicholas building that I share with Isobel Knowles (my Soft Stories collaborator) and 2 other great creative people. I like the variety that these two spaces bring to my schedule. If I’m working from my home studio, it’s a fine balance of stitching new work, preparing and eating weird snacks and patting Porco (my cat). In the city I work on the admin side of things - emails, shooting and editing photos and designing new products.

What mediums do you like to work with the most?

At the moment I’m really into needle felting! The possibilities of the medium are endless - I’m really enjoying the sculpting process (which is ultimately stabbing at a floofy cloud of fairy-floss like wool until it resembles what you had in mind) - it’s a long yet cathartic method of felting.

What are you currently working on?

I am just finishing up felting some giant egg sculptures for a group exhibition at Craft Victoria. After this I’ll be transitioning into the new smaller work for The Small Wall project so it will be interesting from working in a giant format to a very small one!

How do you feel your work has evolved over the last few years, and where do you feel you are heading to?

When I first started making plush back in 2004, my soft sculptures were basic two-dimensional little pillows with not much to distinguish them. My idea was to make them very pared back and simple, but as the years went by I experimented with three dimensional works, and then gave my characters more accessories - clothing and little extras to better explain their characters. It has happened gradually, but when I look at my old and new work side by side it’s completely different! In terms of direction, I’m starting to branch out in to other mediums - such as needle felting and some experiments with quilting - I’m not entirely sure where that’s heading but I’m excited to see.

You will be exhibiting at Outre Gallery soon, could you explain what you have planned for this exhibition and what will it be called?

I love the medium of Gocco, and have stocked and exhibited my gocco prints at Outré for a few years now. This upcoming exhibition (as yet untitled) will be a little ode to the Gocco medium, and will feature a tutorial of some of my characters making their very own Gocco prints. Some photographic prints, plush soft sculptures and hopefully a dash of animation will illustrate how the process works and will also feature a little story involving the characters in the show.

Could you speak about the process you went through in creating your current works?

It is still in progress, but so far I have storyboarded the characters and mapped out the rough narrative for the scenes I want to capture. Each photograph will involve making tiny felt props - so I have a tiny gocco machine, tiny work table and basically everything I can imagine might be in a tiny felt studio!

Words by Nicola Mitchell.

CAT RABBIT / An Ode to the Gocco
JUNE 16 - JUNE 25
Opening drinks, Friday June 12, 6pm to 8pm