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Feline artist of purrfection

Martine Kay-Mouat, who has died peacefully at her home, Val des Portes, of cancer in Alderney, Channel Islands, had at least two claims to fame:

She was the Island’s First Lady as wife of the successively-re-elected States President Jon Kay-Mouat; she was also Doyenne of British feline artists, mainly working in subdued and subtle pastels, with a reputation embracing Britain and even the Continent.

Normandy-born and with an exuberant, ebullient and infectious personality, Martine published a series of greetings cards entitled The Alderney Cats Collection, featuring no fewer than a dozen captivating pastel studies of her very own cats, indigenous to the Island. Some of them are illustrated here.

She chose pastels to work in because, she once told me, they best-conveyed the colour, texture, form and movement of the feline.

In 2003 she even designed her own, small colourful Christmas stamp, ratified by the local Post Office. It depicted Father Christmas minus any cats.

In 1987 she decided to branch out into a new artistic venture, quietly purchasing the historic, mid 19th century pottery, Poterie du Mesnil de Bavent, between Caen and Deauville, the famed seaside resort, in her beloved Normandy. It is Normandy’s oldest pottery.

Here, lifesized cats, dogs, birds and other creatures were hand-made from moulds in a tradition unbroken since 1842, to adorn French roofs and gardens according to local custom, using techniques dating back to 15th century French potters.

Customers came from as far afield as the United States, the West Country and the EC, having constantly read about her feline fame in Cats, a popular weekly British glossy cat magazine and official journal of the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy feline equivalent to the prestigious Kennel Club of Crufts Dog Show fame.

Martine left one of her daughters, Dominique, in charge of the venture, which also produces conventional garden pottery and off-beat ornaments.

Martine exhibited frequently in Continental art shows, once walking off with a medaille d‚Or (gold medal) in 1981 at the International Exhibition in Vichy, France, and chose to hold her first one-man show in the coffee-lounge at the top of LWT, South Bank Centre, Southwark, in 1989.
She personally presented HM The Queen with a 15-inch high pottery racehorse during a Royal visit to Alderney that same year and has sold a great deal of garden-sculpture to the late French President Mitterand’s family. Gallic charm mixes well with Gallic pride.

The Requiem Mass was held at St Anne & St Mary Magdalene, Alderney, with the Order of Service carrying her portrait (shown here) on the cover and a pastel of a sleeping cat on the back, both in colour.

Her son Bruno said: 'Four musicians played Jazz in accompaniment almost throughout the funeral. My mother has been laid to rest on the hill at Essex, in Alderney, in a sheltered spot... with a view looking towards France across the English Channel.'
Feline-art and cat-lovers will mourn her passing.