18 January 2013

Downton Abbey Goes to the Dogs (and Cats)

No, this isn’t Kuriositas’ first ever TV review – even though with the events at the end of the last series we might be forgiven for being a little sniffy about the show’s future.  Yet even though some feel that Downton has become Downturn, the show's general appeal seem to be enduring.

So much for my play on words. If you want to toy with the show’s name then you should really do it like Massachusetts based artist Toadbriar, aka Kim Parkhurst.  Her latest pieces are a very fond homage to the show’s characters entitled collectively Houndton Tabby.  I am not sure which came first, the idea for the collection or its name.  It doesn’t matter to be perfectly frank – these beautifully created prints are absolutely wonderful. And what a way to demonstrate a love for all things Downton and our furry friends by combining the pair!

What I particularly like about the Houndton Tabby collection is the glorious way in which specific species have been so carefully chosen with their Downton counterpart in mind. So, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) is portrayed as a Sphinx cat. John Bates the valet (Brendan Coyle) is shown as a pitbull and Mrs Patmore (Lesley Nicol) is a wonderfully ginger Persian.

I think my favorite, however, has to be the scheming under butler Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) who Toadbriar has painted as a Siamese cat – an absolutely perfect choice!  The artist and illustrator who lives in in rural Massachusetts shows, through her art, her love for the old, the unusual and often portrays animals both wild and domestic in her work. We also suspect she might have quite a good sense of humor.

You may have got to this point with the must have, must have urges steadily growing stronger.  Well, there is good news.  Each of these prints is available from Toadbriar’s Etsy shop.  They are signed and each print is 8" x 10".   I have to say that I think they are very fairly priced and they are guaranteed to get to you flat – they will not be rolled up for postage (always a relief!).

Click on any of the pictures above or on the links in the article to go to Toadbriar’s Etsy shop (and to see the other pictures in the collection).  Kuriositas would also like to thank Kim Parkhurst for her very kind permission to share these pictures for your pleasure.  Of course, to protect the artist’s original copyright there is a slight watermark on each of them which is (obviously!) not on the prints.  I do have to point out too that the originals are a much higher resolution than you see here.

Additional thanks, too, for simply making my day with these wonderful caricatures (can I call them that? I’m not sure).  The fact that they are so spot on in terms of the individual characters – and so beautifully crafted – makes Houndton Tabby very special indeed.