The Japanese sculptor Kenji Yanobe is known for his large-scale robotic and nightmarish toys. But animals too have always played an important role in Yanobe’s work too. And in his latest work titled Ship’s Cat, Yanobe has created a series of large-scale cat sculptures in various positions wearing protective helmets.
Ship’s Cat takes its name from the historic tradition of carrying a cat onboard many trading, exploration and naval ships. The main purpose of having a ship’s cat was to ward off mice and rats that could cause damage to ropes and wires, as well as spread disease. But their calming nature and ability to comfort and even heal, established them as an ideal traveling companion.
Inspired by the bravery and fearlessness of these cats, Yanobe create oversized sculptures of cats wearing protective gear and helmets. The first Ship’s Cat sculpture was installed earlier this year at a hostel in Hakata, known as Japan’s oldest port town. Several others were later added as well, creating surreal scenes of cats in helmets looking adorable.
Now, in the spirit of traveling, some of those cat sculptures have landed in Tokyo at the new Ginza Six department store. They’ll be on display at Tsutaya Books on the 6th floor – a wonderful space in itself that all booklovers should visit – now through December 28th as part of a special Christmas exhibition featuring cat art.