Toxoplasmosis 1 – Casey Weldon

Cats, they are funny creatures aren’t they? One minute they want fuss and attention then next they are ready and armed to slice your face off. They can be adorable, then sit on a shelf and push your ornaments on to the floor. They are like the mother of all mood swings. It could be down to this temperamental nature that they are associated with many myths, commonly known as a witches familiar, along with bringing bad luck as a black one happens to stroll across your path.

Weldon has created a style of his own, which is highly colourful and echoes the pop art culture. His painting are sumptuous, elegant, humorous, melancholy and fantastical all at the same time. The majority of his work centres around two themes, highly detailed four eyed cats, and mystical women with firework eyes. I haven’t naturally veered away from his usual work on purpose, but I do happen to this that this painting is exceedingly clever on many levels.

What we see as an audience is a close up of a cat with a skull for its little pink nose. The eyes are glazed, almost mesmerised with wide pupils, reflecting balls of neon lights. I know on the outset, this doesn’t sound very clever, but you need to have a little bit of knowledge about old wives tales and cats to get on my wave length.

In times gone by, cats were said to be baby killers. In fact, cats were rumoured to have sucked the breath from babies as they slept. This, is not the case at all, but due to cats being associated with witches, back in the 1600’s it was quite easy for people to believe that a child who had suffered a cot death had died because there was a cat in the house. This could have come about because of the cats being drawn to the smell of milk on the babies breath, anyone who has ever seen a cat around a baby will know there is no spacial awareness between the two as the cat investigates where the smell of milk is coming from. There has the the odd case of a cat suffocating a baby from laying on its face, but this is so rare, there is only one of two documented cases.

Then there is the title, Toxoplasmosis. This is a parasitic disease which humans can catch from either poorly cooked meat which contains cysts, or can be caught from handling cat poo. Yes it is the disease that killed Tommy from ‘Trainspotting’. For most of us with a health immune system this wouldn’t be an issue, if you caught Toxoplasmosis your immune system would fight it off, it for those with an impacted immune system this can be fairly serious, causing cysts and legions all over the body, but particularly cysts and legions in the retinas. If infected and at risk, pregnant women in worst cases can lose the child or pass on the infection which could lead to still birth or cot death.

So, now with the old wives tales ringing around your head and a brief breakdown of Toxoplasmosis, what do we see in the painting now? An infected cat with legions in its retinas expanding the irises and the light is reflecting the colour of the legion in the red dots seen in the eyes. The skull as the nose carrying the warning of a potential death to those with a low immune system. Doesn’t this take the cute cat face to an elevated level for the viewer now?

If you want to see more of Weldon’s work you can find it here

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