“I’m not obsessed with cats – I just keep getting asked to paint them.”
That’s what Huddersfield artist Rob Martin said as he unveiled his latest meow-sterpiece.
After unveiling the work last year, Rob was inundated with messages from Felix’s Facebook fans in Devon asking him to paint their very own Felix – Mango the Tesco Cat.
Mango has been delighting shoppers at the Tiverton supermarket for six years, and now Rob’s £90k painting has been hung at a nearby art gallery in the town.
The Outlane artist has also revealed he has painted a particularly famous feline – El Gato, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s pet cat.
Rob, who currently lives in Somerset and is related to Huddersfield Olympic equestrian John Whittaker, said: “After I painted Felix, I had some negative comments but most people I have spoken to love it.
“Since then plenty of people have been in touch saying: ‘Have you heard about our famous cat?’, asking me to paint them.
“So many people in Devon sent me messages after seeing the story about Felix’s painting on her Facebook page. I had never heard of Mango until this point but it turns out he’s a local celebrity.”
The latest piece took four weeks to complete, and depicts Mango in a smart blue velvet jacket and yellow waistcoat. Rob used photographs to get every marking on the tabby’s coat exactly right.
“It’s like a fingerprint; it’s unique to Mango’s face. Painting a tabby cat is a very difficult thing to do.”
Since painting Mango, Rob has also been busy painting El Gato, and is hoping it may be presented to the politician in the future.
Rob, 47, said: “It wasn’t a commission, but lots of people were suggesting why don’t I paint this cat. It was mentioned by a member of the Labour Party who had seen the Felix painting.
“The El Gato painting is four foot high and very regal. People have told me it’s a masterpiece, I’m very proud of it.
The painting’s frame is to be made by artist and jeweller Ian Barrett, which will add to its grandeur.
Rob said: “I never set out to paint all these famous cats. So many people got in touch asking me to paint Felix and it just went from there.”
Rob also has a book out later this year called ‘This Country’ which is a collection of illustrations on the theme of social satire.