A student has won international recognition for his exhibition of photographs depicting everyday suburban life – taken by his CAT.
Architect Christian Allen, 27, fitted his pet ‘Nancy Bean’ with a lightweight camera around her neck which is timed to take an image once every minute.
Nancy, who has only three legs following a car accident, captured hundreds of pictures of her favourite hangouts, hiding places, encounters with neighbours and even abstract garden and sky shots.
The ginger tabby’s artwork has wowed the professional photography world and is set to be displayed among some of the finest images at an international photography festival in the south of France.
Christian, of Plymouth, Devon, fitted five-year old Nancy Bean with the camera because he wanted to get an insight into her world without imposing on it.
He said: ”I wanted to look at suburban life but I also wanted to disassociate myself from it, so I came up with the idea to get the cat to take the pictures.
”There were literally hundreds of pictures, with many being very mundane. But every so often you come across a cracker.
”Initially, it was just a bit of fun as I was curious as to where my cat was going all day but I was stunned when I saw the results.
”It really is an extraordinary insight into a cat’s world that we humans often aren’t privy to.
”There are lots of images of Nancy crouching under cars but also some pretty cheeky ones of neighbours and other animals.
”A cat’s life looks to me to be a very satisfied one.”
Christian, who studies architecture at the University of Plymouth, first came up with the idea two years ago and has intermittently fixed the camera around Nancy Bean’s neck since.
In total, she took around 400 images and had the camera attached around her neck for a month.
Christian said: ”The funniest ones are the ones of our surprised neighbours looking at her.
”I also like the ones of encounters she has with other cats.”
He was contacted by world renowned photographer Martin Parr through the university asking if he would be willing to display the artwork.
”It was amazing,” added Christian. ”I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
”He told me he was really impressed with my project and he was organising an art exhibition in France and thought my photos would be well suited to it.
”I later found out it was the international photography festival in Arles, and I couldn’t believe my little cat’s pictures would be appearing next to some amazing work by artists from around the globe.
”It will look quite funny actually because it will be her name on the pictures and a little photo of her alongside them.
”We did try and get her out there, with a cat passport but in the end it couldn’t be done, which I imagine is a bit disappointing for her as she deserves the accolade.”
Nancy Bean wore the camera collar for a month and captured around 400 images a day which have now been broken down into the 18 to be shown at the festival.
The camera was specially made to be smaller and lightweight and had a timer on it which meant she took about one a minute.
Four years ago – just a year after Christian and his fiancÃ©e rescued Nancy from an abandonment shelter – she was run over and lost her front leg.
But amazingly she managed to crawl all the way home and through the cat flap where fortunately she was saved.
Nancy’s work will be exhibited at the International Festival of photography in Arles, near Nimes in the South of France from July 4.