Cat Rabbit <3 The Seven Seas x Infinity October 31 2021

Cat Rabbit is a textile artist based in Naarm/Melbourne. Using felt, recycled and vintage fabrics, she hand stitches plush sculptural works of her imagined characters and the worlds they might live in. Her work translates to many formats - from children’s books to large-scale felt installations - always with the aim of bringing softness and warmth to the viewer.

The Seven Seas (Callum Addis) is a Melbourne-based multidisciplinary artist working in illustration and sculpture. He works across many styles from figurative to abstract work, always with a focus on bold colours and large forms. The Seven Seas explores woodworking, casting and illustration techniques to represent his recurring cast of characters and forms reflecting memories, thoughts and travels.

Interview by Viet-My Bui. Photos supplied by Cat Rabbit & The Seven Seas.

Cat, welcome back! We are so thrilled to have another show with you. How do you think your work has evolved since your last show with us?

Cat: Thank you for having me! I don’t know if my work has evolved as much as I’ve just done lots of little side-steps into other areas. My last show featured lots of fine details and dioramas, and with this show I’ve created some larger more simplified characters and tried a few new techniques, like punch needle.

Callum, what's the story behind your handle The Seven Seas?

Callum: I wish I had an interesting answer to this, but it was just a moniker I chose when I was doing more street orientated work.

You've been partners in life and creativity for a long time. How did you two meet?

There was no grand moment or funny meeting story. We were friends for a while before we were together. I think we first met at an exhibition opening? It’s hazy!

Take us through a typical day for both of you.

Cat: There have not really been any typical days in the last two years. Many days do start with a boiled egg and toast soldiers, though. Callum is studying Conservation & Land Management, and I have just installed an exhibition two years in the making at Bayside Gallery. We’ve been juggling both of these things with other work over the last couple of years, so we usually reconvene for breakfast and for dinner but are busy with whatever the day dictates for the rest of the time!

What is the process of collaboration like for you? How does it differ from your individual practices?

This time around, one of us has made something and handed it to the other to finish off - so it’s more like a process of make and respond.

Callum – Your works often feature concentric circles and undulating lines. What is the inspiration behind this? Are you creating portals to another world?

I think a lot of my work is about memory and escaping to other places.

Both of your works delve into otherworldly and imaginative narratives and characters. What are your favourite works that focus on flights of fantasy?

Cat: For me, the TV shows I watched as a wee child have remained a constant influence. My favourites were (and still are) Paddington (the stop motion from the 70s), Astro Boy and Sailor Moon. I also loved Garfield and was really obsessed with the Lion King (I have an enviable collection of Lion King cards, series 1 & 2). I later discovered Studio Ghibli, Tove Jansson and the world of Moomin, and the Cheburashka stop motion series. I love including references to these characters in my work, both as an act of reverence for the characters themselves and as a point of connection to viewers who have their own childhood memories tied up with these familiar friends.

Callum: When I was younger my favourite TV shows and movies were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Wars, The Book Place, The Ferals and Lift Off. Some of my later favourite TV shows and movies are Akira, The Wire, Fargo and anything Studio Ghibli.

Your upcoming collaborative exhibition is called I <3 You x Infinity. Tell us about the concept behind this show.

It’s a little play on patterns, motifs and characters we like to draw on a loop – like when you’re at school and you draw the same thing over and over on your books (or on the desks, if you’re naughty).

What was the most challenging aspect of preparing for this exhibition?

Lockdown! Sourcing materials and motivation were particularly tricky in this time. Managing our work amongst the constantly soupy lockdown haze and shifting deadlines has been really tough. And even though we spend most of our time together, it has been hard to find time to collaborate around the demands of our individual work.

Melbourne is now coming out of a long lockdown. What has the past two years been like for you – both personally, and as artists?

From an artistic point of view, I guess we answered that in the above question. From a personal perspective, some aspects have been really nice: the baking, the gardening, the slow walks and the Great British Bake Off. But it has been hard—for the obvious reasons—and we really missed our friends and easy, spontaneous catch-ups.

Tell me a memory you have based around a meal you've had together.

In un-locked-down times when we’re able to travel to Japan, we have a ritual of getting the Tendon tempura beer and snack set as our first meal off the plane - it always means fun times are ahead!

Thank you both for your time! We can't wait to see your show!