The yards of Tartu's Supilinn district have always been home to cats who roam beyond their homes, aren't afraid to explore the nooks and crannies of that part of the city and feel right at home also in other people's gardens. An exhibition paying homage to just such cats will open in a Supilinn garden on Sunday.
Work has been going on for weeks in the Herne street garden. Artist Maria Evestus has finished painting the portraits of 30 cats on the fence, with a few more to be completed. The cats that adorn the fence are all from Supilinn and painted using photographs by catographer Helen Rae.
"I wanted to practice the camera and cats make for good teachers. They are far away and taking photos of them requires some sneaking. It is a great lesson if you're an amateur," Rae said.
"We were initially talking about 20 or so cats, while Helen kept finding new ones to photograph once we got started. We have some 30 cats here now. And there will likely be more," Evestus said.
Helen's own cat is keeping an eye on its fellow felines' photo shoots through the window pane. Käbi has also found a place on the fence. The idea to paint the cats on the fence started over six months ago and is motivated by the fact that this kind of cat ownership will soon be a thing of the past.
"They are already building the new borough and Supilinn will inevitably become part of the city center and perhaps become a little more civilized than it is today. Cats tend to wee in flower beds and like to dig. A person plants a pretty rose bush and then a free-roaming cat comes around. The city technically does not allow pets to roam. We understand these concerns but we thought we might play a little trick and demonstrate that they do (roam)," Rae said.
There is a new legend according to which seeing one of the cats painted on the fence sitting in front of it will bring nine years of good luck. Helen and Maria also hope to learn the names of all the cats painted on the fence.
"We will add the names we learn to the portraits. It will add an extra dimension and a way of remembering them. That while Supilinn will have new cats in 10-20 years, this is the moment we captured," Evestus explained.
Editor: Marcus Turovski