The King of the Cats

The King of the Cats

“The King of the Cats: Lancashire stories explored and reinvented by four visual artists and one storyteller”

“The King of the Cats” was an exhibition of contemporary art and film rooted in the Lancashire landscape that toured for two years from 2014 – 2016, funded by The Arts Council of England.

The exhibition was a collaboration between sculptor Marjan Wouda, painter Chris Rainham, ceramicist Julie Miles  installation artist Patricia Ramsden, Graham Kay of Fully Formed Films and myself. We began with old Lancashire folktales that began to transform as soon as they met the 21st century and our individual arts practices.

I collaborated with Graham Kay to create the film: “Gathered Tales of Lancashire” 

Film: “Gathered Tales of Lancashire”

I had set off on a mission to talk to people across Lancashire and discover the stories that are being told now of strange or odd happenings or experiences. Before long I was following leads across the county, having unexpected conversations on station platforms and chance meetings in cafes and libraries. These led to tales of haunted taxis and ghostly bikers. What struck me most was the resonances they had with the old stories. I devised and wrote a script that twisted them together. Graham and I discussed the meanings we create around landscapes and the palimpsest of stories that overlay geographical locations and together we developed a vision of a film that allowed us to play with the juxtapositions and tensions created between the stories themselves, the tellers, the locations where the stories were shared now and the 21st century Lancashire landscape. Graham created visual narratives that played with the layers of people and place within which the stories are triggered and shared.

For a longer explanation of how the film came to be made, here’s an interview with Fiona Pattison:  pdf Creating Gathered Tales of Lancashire

 “The King of the Cats and Other Lancashire Stories” – The Book

I rewrote the the old Lancashire stories for the book, “The King of the Cats and Other Lancashire Stories”, to accompany the exhibition.


Click on the headings below to read excerpts, sample stories and see the artwork:

Forewords by Kevin Crossley-Holland and Eileen Cooper

The King Of The Cats

Peg O’ The well

The Jug And The Sixpence

Work by Christopher Rainham and Marjan Wouda for the exhibition:

“The Boy with the Malady” – A painting by Christopher Rainham
“The Dobbie’s Hare” – a sculpture by Marjan Wouda

"The White Doe" - a painting by Christopher Rainham
“The White Doe” – a painting by Christopher Rainham

“A great exhibition. Love it. It’s fun and informative” – Angie, Salford

“Loved the exhibition. Best thing I’ve seen in ages.” – Sue Rowlands”

“A very imaginative and captivating exhibition.” – Amber Redman