Category Archives: Art

Surbiton Festival Congratulations

A huge thanks to everyone who took part in the competitions The Staff organised (under my instructions of course) at The Surbiton Festival in September. And many congratulations to our winners.

Sorry it’s taken so long – you can blame the talented under 10s who took part in our draw a cat competition! Their entries were so good The Staff and I had a hard job judging them. So good in fact,  we decided to award honourable mention prizes. Without further ado, here they are:

Under 10s


We all loved this amusing drawing of a very evil looking cat by Leo Cox – winner of the under 10s section. Turns out his name is Blackie and he’s not evil at all. Thank you Leo – you get my paw of approval for making us smile! Leo won a set of art materials.

And here are the honourable mentions who each won either a pastel, paint or pencil set.



Congratulations to Georgina Standerwick for winning this category. The Staff told me she spent ages on this lovely drawing. In fact they thought she’d disappeared until they found her sitting on the pavement drawing away.

Well done everyone! We hope you make lots more fab drawings. Maybe one day you’ll join the talented professional artists in my Emporium!

Caption competition

Say Ahhhhh

The winner of our caption competition with was Steve Burniston who was born and bred in Surbiton but now lives in Teddington.

His winning caption was ‘How long do I have to say ‘aaaaaaghhhhhh?’

Here’s Steve with his prize – a Jane Adams ceramic sculpture called ‘Laughing Cat’.  Jane is one of my Emporium artists and you can see other examples of her work here.

Steve the winner

Prize draw

On the day, The Staff asked people to pin the names of their cats onto a map of Surbiton which we named ‘The Mappa Monti (get it?!). We wanted to find the most exotically named cats in Surbiton. We think Caramelo takes that title!

People who took part in this survey were invited to enter a prize draw to win a Kickeroo (my favourite toy) for their feline friend.

The lucky winner was Charlie who lives with the Duncan family.  Congratulations Charlie! I hope you love your Kickeroo as much as I love mine. It was a good day for the Duncans because their daughter, Bailey was one of our highly commended artists.

Inspired by Monty does Surbiton Festival 2014

The Staff are frantically getting ready to take Inspired by Monty to the Surbiton Festival on Saturday 27th September. They’ll be in St Andrew’s Road – stall number 60 – I’d be grateful if you could make sure they’re working hard…

They’ll be promoting both strands of the business – Mr Monty’s Fuss and Feed, and my Art Emporium.  And we’ve got lots of fun things for you to do too!

Sharpen your wit and take part in my caption competition, which will be judged by Tim Harrison – The Good Life newspaper owner and editor, and master of the witty one-liner.

The best caption under a photo of my good self will win a delightful ceramic called Laughing Cat by Cornwall based artist, Jane Adams.

Laughing Cat - ceramic by Jane Adams

Laughing Cat – ceramic by Jane Adams

You’ll have chance to reveal your inner artist too with our draw a cat competition. There are some fabulous prizes in three cat-egories (tee hee – see what I did there?)

The under 10s winner will get a lovely art set which includes a drawing book, coloured pencils, connector pens and clips, grip pencils, and a fish shaped pencil sharpener.

An art set for the under 10s winner

An art set for the under 10s winner

The 11-16s winner will get art materials (sketch book, brush set, Windsor and Newton gouache set) and a book – Draw Paint Print Like the Great Artists by Marion Denchars (plus a Cass Arts bag to keep everything in!).

Fabulous art materials for the 11-16s winner

Fabulous art materials for the 11-16s winner

The over 16s winner will win a delightful machine embroidery by Linda Miller whose work is in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert museum.


Beautiful machine embroidery by Linda Miller

Beautiful machine embroidery by Linda Miller

LindaAnd please help us find the most popular, and the most exotic, cat’s names in Surbiton by telling us your cat’s name and sticking a pin on the, ahem, Mappa Monty!

Competition winners, and Surbiton’s most popular feline name, will be announced on the website after the festival.

So please do go along, say hello to The Staff and take part in the fun.




Remembering the brave war animals


Image of the Animals in War memorial, Park Lane, London (taken by Cat Morley!

Image of the Animals in War memorial, Hyde Park, London (taken by Cat Morley

I’m hearing lots of things about World War I at the moment because this week marks the 100th anniversary of its start.

I’m learning that it was a terrible time and many people lost their lives in dreadful circumstances. Really, you humans are a strange breed. You are capable of the most amazing acts of kindness and love, creativity and invention, and yet you also commit the most terrible atrocities.

Anyway, I’m also learning that many animals were involved in the First World War and that they did some very brave things.

These brave creatures, and other animals that have served with the British forces throughout history, have their own war memorial on Park Lane in London. It was designed by David Backhouse – an English sculptor, and was unveiled in November 2004.

Mules from the Animals in War Memorial, Hyde Park, London (Image by Dominick Kosciuk

Mules from the Animals in War Memorial, Hyde Park, London (Image by Dominick Kosciuk )

And if you go to see it, look out for the goat – it was modelled on Rosie, who lived with The Staff’s friends Annie and John in Wales!

Back in 1914 The Blue Cross – a wonderful charity that still does a terrific job today – cared for many animals injured during the conflict.

Originally, The Blue Cross was a fund set up by Our Dumb Friends League, which was formed in 1897. ODFL used the fund to care mainly for horses that were casualties during the Balkan wars of 1912-13.

It was reinstated during The Great War and sent vets, nurses, first aid and clinical supplies out to the front.

But as well as looking after injured animals, it also had a happier role. It’s kennels in Shooters Hill, London acted as a quarantine centre for animals returning from the war.

Monty (my namesake!) was a dog who had befriended a British sergeant in Turkey. He served with him in Gallipoli and apparently was instrumental in saving the lives of two soldiers.

But at the end of the war, the sergeant couldn’t afford to pay the quarantine fees. Blue Cross to the rescue! They stepped in and paid the fees so Monty and his human companion were reunited and able to spend the rest of their days together in more peaceful circumstances.

The kennels disappeared long ago and houses now stand where animals once lived. However, there’s still a pet cemetery with around 240 graves – some dedicated to brave animals who served beside their humans in various conflicts.

You can hear the story of The Blue Cross and Shooters Hill here 





Introducing Mr Monty’s Art Emporium

Elaine and Graham – ‘the staff’ have been out and about searching for talented UK artists for Mr Monty’s Art Emporium.

They’ve gathered together some excellent work and I can hardly wait for the open house weekend on 10 and 11 May at our cosy little home in Surbiton.

I’d like to welcome on board, in no particular order, the following lovely talented artists. Drum roll please…

Linda Miller imageLinda Miller – embroiderer extraordinaire who has created five exquisite little pictures exclusively for my Emporium.  Linda has work in the permanent collections of the V&A and Crafts Council and we are delighted she wanted to be part of the Emporium.

It was one of her pictures – Sooty the Wonder Cat – that started the staff’s collection. They had just got a gas bill for the same amount as Linda’s picture cost. The decided that, in 20 years time, they wouldn’t remember the day they paid the gas bill, but they would still have Sooty.

They’ve looked at this lovely picture every day since. And the gas bill got paid somehow.

Cat-Bag.jpgShane Thompson – illustrator based in Falmouth, Cornwall. Shane has designed a fabulous motif and printed it onto tote bags. Again, the design is exclusive to Mr Monty’s Emporium.

Peeping-cat.jpgBridie Cheeseman – illustrator, also from Falmouth. Bridie has produced five delightful gouache images for the Emporium. I call them ‘secret cats’ because you have to look hard to find the cats in some of the paintings. Take a close look at the self-portrait in her bio too…!

Laughing-Cat.jpgJane Adams – ceramicist, painter and gallery owner in St Just, Cornwall. The staff have been customers of her gallery for a few years now, and love her fun, quirky, cat ceramics and paintings. They were thrilled she wanted to be part of my Emporium.

Jane has been owned by many cats over the years and is now employed by four felines.

Sweet-Peas.jpgAlison Barter – Herefordshire-based painter. Alison works from an idyllic studio in her garden surrounded by beautiful countryside. And it’s reflected in her work. Her main focus is botanical painting but she adores cats and can’t resist including them in her work. The staff tell me her work reminds them of Elizabeth Blackadder’s paintings – I’ll have to take their work for that.

Alison also does commissions. So you could ask her to do a painting of your cat together with your favourite flower. Or you could commission a gift for a cat lover.

Cute-cat-admiring-cushion.jpgNicola Barter – Alison’s daughter. Nicola has a business called The Catkin Boutique and she makes cushions, bags, earrings and even temporary tattoos printed with images of cats.

And she’ll make earrings based on your own cat! I think Elaine should have some of moi…

Lost-cats-quartet-4-of-4.jpgPaddy Hamilton is a Dungeness based artist. He doesn’t usually do anything to do with cats – he has two dogs…

But he did have these very poignant prints called ‘Lost Cats’. They were inspired by a notice stuck to a lamppost about a cat that had gone missing. The notice was still being replaced three years on. So sad. I think the story reminded the staff of when I went missing and they stuck notices on trees and lampposts around where we live.

Oh OK then. Here are the dogs

Fly - he's the daddy.

Fly – he’s the daddy.


Jet - Fly's boy.

Jet – Fly’s boy.

Elaine Mason and Michael Farnsworth run Glass on Glass from their studio in Herefordshire.  Elaine is the main designer and produces a beautiful range of glassware including bowls, coasters, candle shades and cheeseboards.

The staff have chosen some very nice cat inspired pieces!

Dena O’Brien is a very talented fine art printer based near Redruth in Cornwall. She’s busy making some pieces exclusively for my Emporium, which will include a print of me! I hear she’s making cat print lampshades too…

Dena will do commissions so keep a look out for the Monty print to give you an idea of what she could do for you.

Poppy Robinson is an illustration student at Falmouth University. Although she’s never had the good fortune to share a home with a cat, she has always been drawn to us. She says she is inspired by our colourful personalities, our elegance, and our playfulness. What a nice, clever lady!

Poppy has created paintings in gouache just for my Emporium. Thank you Poppy!

CushionNicola Walker is a Surrey-based textile artist.

She’s producing several pieces of work including some fabulous cushions with applique cats. You could ask her to make one for your cat too!

The staff will also have work in my Emporium. Graham has made a range of fabulous painted textiles of my good self, each with a quotation. Some are about books and reading, and others are quotes about leadership inspired by me and my cleverness.

Elaine has a range of feline photos – framed and unframed, and some have been made into cards.

We’ll have other artists joining us over the next few months as well, so keep an eye on the website.

And we have a fabulous vintage range too. I do like to keep Elaine and Graham busy and focussed.

How you can buy the work
We’re launching Mr Monty’s Art Emporium with an open house weekend on the 10th and 11th May, then you’ll be able to buy work online.

If you’re interested in something online but would rather see it in person, you can make an appointment to come and see us. Or my staff will come to see you with the piece of work you’re interested in if you don’t live too far away.

I’m planning to send the staff off to do markets and fairs too so  watch this space! 



The hard working cats of Exeter Cathedral

Somehow we felines have earned a reputation for not doing much. You humans seem to think we spend our days sleeping, only waking to eat and allow ourselves to be stroked by our adoring humans.

Well let me tell you we are some of the hardest working creatures you’ll find. We’re just incredibly intelligent when it comes to conserving our energy, which means we carry out tasks with precision, efficiency and a cool head.

Down the centuries we’ve been on the payroll of many famous organisations. Take Exeter Cathedral for instance.

The Cathedral is home to an astronomical clock that was fitted in 1484. Fourteen. Eighty. Four. Wow that’s old!

Anyway, the clock developed a rather squeaky problem. A squeaky problem with big teeth and long tails. Yup. Rats. They gnawed away at the ropes in the clock’s inner workings, which were lubricated with animal fat – nectar to rodents.  Something had to be done.

So a hole was made in the door that led to the inside of the clock, big enough to allow a cat to get in and deal with the problem. 

These cats were official cathedral employee, paid one shiny penny a week for their troubles. Imagine the amount of Dreamies that would buy in today’s money!

Exeter Cathedral catOne brave feline employee, Tom, lost an eye in a fight with an owl over a rat and there’s a little stone carving of him inside the Cathedral.

Thanks to Fiona Bruce (I do like Fiona) for sharing this story on Antiques Roadshow!

A muse on art

Art:  we all have an opinion. Us cats especially – being the elegant and aesthetic types.
We all know what we like. Here’s me in front of a couple of my current likes. (Paddy Hamilton - painting on my right -  mentions fish a lot).

Showing off a Trish and a Paddy

Showing off a Trish and a Paddy

But it’s about more than likes really. Like a feline, an artwork can touch your soul. It can make you smile, can make you think, can challenge you with some difficult questions.
Most importantly, like felines, living with art makes human life better.
Banish drab and ordinary. Choose original and inspiring.
Take a look at my Art Emporium – opening soon!