MEOW: a collection of cat sleeves.

The people (a lot!) that came to MEOW 001 were all cool. They even dressed accordingly! There was a girl with a Felix The Cat bag, a girl with a cat T-shirt that said ‘I wish I Was A Frog’ AND there was even a girl with a cat dress!

That was a sign for me that people digged the idea. And I? I was a happy man of course. More than I could now at that time. MEOW 001 would even change my life…

The series 'Music For The Millions' - a series of (as far as I know) 18 (!)  volumes with a cat depicted on/besides an instrument - was a winner too.  Especially the way they were presented: on vinyl and in vinyl holders.  In other words: the way record shops used to display their vinyl back in  the days…
The idea for this series - released in the ‘70ties - came from Dutch graphic designer Cor Wijtemans (R.I.P.) who designed sleeves for a.o. famous Dutch singers like Boudewijn De Groot, Drs. P. and Wim Sonneveld.
I still get a lot of cat sleeves from people (again: thank you all!) and most of these were albums from this series. They are very easy to find in second hand shops. The series was very popular and a commercial succes in the ‘70ties. Funnily enough: I still don’t have the whole series. I’m still missing volume 12…
Other problem: the series has been released on 3 different labels: Decca, Phillips and Fontana. So it’s a little bit harder to get the whole series on the same label. In other words: I’m still missing volume 12 on Fontana…

The series 'Music For The Millions' - a series of (as far as I know) 18 (!) volumes with a cat depicted on/besides an instrument - was a winner too. Especially the way they were presented: on vinyl and in vinyl holders. In other words: the way record shops used to display their vinyl back in the days…

The idea for this series - released in the ‘70ties - came from Dutch graphic designer Cor Wijtemans (R.I.P.) who designed sleeves for a.o. famous Dutch singers like Boudewijn De Groot, Drs. P. and Wim Sonneveld.

I still get a lot of cat sleeves from people (again: thank you all!) and most of these were albums from this series. They are very easy to find in second hand shops. The series was very popular and a commercial succes in the ‘70ties. Funnily enough: I still don’t have the whole series. I’m still missing volume 12…

Other problem: the series has been released on 3 different labels: Decca, Phillips and Fontana. So it’s a little bit harder to get the whole series on the same label. In other words: I’m still missing volume 12 on Fontana…

Friday the 22nd of June 2007: MEOW 001 was a fact at Le Bonheur in Brussels. I couldn’t sleep for days. I was thrilled and stressed at the same time but extremely excited too.

I worked 2 days in a row to make everything look like I wanted it to. I was especially proud about my Psapp selection and the 'Jazz Cats' section. They formed a beautiful unity. And in a way it had an aura of ‘seriousness’ which I wanted to create as well.

A few days before the exhibition I got a superb gift. A cd from the Japanese multi-instrumentalist Shugo Tokumaru called 'L.S.T.' (‘05). Not only the cover looked great, but the guy who sent it to me subtitled the imaginary conversation. I kept the ‘new version’ as being the one and only ‘real version’. I simply couldn’t remove the plastic with the text written on it. So ever since, this new copy appeared in every MEOW exhibition…

A few days before the exhibition I got a superb gift. A cd from the Japanese multi-instrumentalist Shugo Tokumaru called 'L.S.T.' (‘05). Not only the cover looked great, but the guy who sent it to me subtitled the imaginary conversation. I kept the ‘new version’ as being the one and only ‘real version’. I simply couldn’t remove the plastic with the text written on it. So ever since, this new copy appeared in every MEOW exhibition…

Actually… Radiohead released one proper cat sleeve in ‘05: the single 'Street Spirit (Fade Out)'… The sleeve design was credited as ‘Fine Art by Stanley Donwood and The White Chocolate Farm’. The latter is also known as Thom Yorke (or Dr.Tchock or Tchocky). Well, the sleeve is - sorry Thom - ugly.
We all realise now that the MEOW MANIFESTO should be part of any teaching program at art schools…

Actually… Radiohead released one proper cat sleeve in ‘05: the single 'Street Spirit (Fade Out)'… The sleeve design was credited as ‘Fine Art by Stanley Donwood and The White Chocolate Farm’. The latter is also known as Thom Yorke (or Dr.Tchock or Tchocky). Well, the sleeve is - sorry Thom - ugly.

We all realise now that the MEOW MANIFESTO should be part of any teaching program at art schools…

The way I wanted to present the sleeves was similar like in musea with ‘serious’ displays. Ideally with quotes from the artists. And it seemed like luck was on my side. I came across an announcement from an exhibition in Holland called 'Department Of Reclusive Paranoia' with artwork from Stanley Donwood and Dr. Tchock. Yep, the people who did all the artwork for Radiohead since the EP 'My Iron Lung' (‘94).

Since 'Kid A' (‘00) the band partly used a crying/fighting cat as their ‘logo’ on most of their sleeves. No wonder they would form a fair part of my exhibition, so a quote from them would be cool as fuck!

So I went to Rotterdam and I hoped to met the duo. Dr. Tchock (also known as Thom Yorke) wasn’t around, but Stanley Donwood was! He’s an extremely shy guy and I told him about my passion. But he had to say something: "Well the crying cat actually is … a minotaur and thus half human/half bull. But I like your idea a lot! You can leave it in your exhibition if you want to, ‘cause I’m a cat person too". Exit the cat. Enter the minotaur.

On my way home - with a quote in my pocket - I created a new category: 'Cat's Aren't Always What They Seem'…

Besides covers of Mark Lanegan and Isan the poster contained other lovely sleeves. The compilation 'It Sounds Different - Sweet Electro' (‘02) was a gift. A great gift, ‘cause I never found a sleeve with a cat licking on someone’s ear again… 'With Love And Squalor' (‘06) from We Are Scientists became a classic in my collection and a well known cat sleeve in general.

Another classic: 'My Name Is Buddy' (‘07) from Ry Cooder, an album about Buddy Red Cat that - of course - ended up in the category 'The Ultimate Cat Sleeves'.

The last sleeve that appeared on the poster was a very special one: 'Cat's Cradle' (‘05) from the English duo Pinkie Maclure & John Wills. The sleeve reminded me of the beautiful drawings of Louis Wain, about whom I’ll talk later.

First thing to do: make a visual/poster for the exhibition. Being a fan of PSAPP it was clear that they had to design the poster. Or at least: I hoped singer Galia Durant would be so kind to design a poster for me… And she did!
I provided her with a couple of my favorite cat sleeves and this was the result…
Positive side effect: I had to provide all the correct info to be on the poster… so I suddenly had an opening date (my first vernissage!) and a band that I liked a lot would perform that night: Kiss The Anus Of A Black Cat. Hail deadlines!

First thing to do: make a visual/poster for the exhibition. Being a fan of PSAPP it was clear that they had to design the poster. Or at least: I hoped singer Galia Durant would be so kind to design a poster for me… And she did!

I provided her with a couple of my favorite cat sleeves and this was the result…

Positive side effect: I had to provide all the correct info to be on the poster… so I suddenly had an opening date (my first vernissage!) and a band that I liked a lot would perform that night: Kiss The Anus Of A Black Cat. Hail deadlines!

I was thrilled to have my first exhibition ever, but was extremely stressed too.

How should I put the exhibition together? How should I promote MEOW 001? Don’t exhibitions always go hand in hand with official openings? Will Banksy be there? Will it look like a real exhibition? … Maybe I took the cat sleeve idea one step too far…

Chill! The shop was surely cat friendly, ‘cause on my various shopping trips to Le Bonheur I found a funny little (only 24 pages) booklet… It was from a French illustrator named Serge Morin. He transformed 'Salade' into 'Chat-lade', 'Ray Charles' into 'Ray Chat-rles' and 'ça n'existe pas' into 'Chat n'existe pas'. In case you wonder: 'chat' is the French word for cat.

So I saw the booklet as a SIGN and started to work on my exhibition step by step…

One of my favorite music shops of all time was Le Bonheur, based in the heart of Brussels (Belgium). The full name of the shop was Le Bonheur_Epicerie Audio Visuelle. The name could be loosely translated as ‘Happiness_Audio Visual Grocery’.
Thierry, the owner (R.I.P.), was a great guy and inspired me a lot. He sold little bottles of ‘Bonheur’ (see picture), a bunch of underground electronica and noise too. But as well reissues on vinyl from one of my favorite punk band of all time: Crass. And more fun stuff: cassettes from improv bands and flashy green t shirts with the word ‘wasabi’ on it :-) Well, you got the picture, not your average everyday stuff.
Le Bonheur had a gallery too. So I showed the owner my manifesto and he raved about it. "Why don’t you exhibit here within a few months?". Sure thing!
But I wasn’t so sure… I never did set up an exhibition in my life before.

One of my favorite music shops of all time was Le Bonheur, based in the heart of Brussels (Belgium). The full name of the shop was Le Bonheur_Epicerie Audio Visuelle. The name could be loosely translated as ‘Happiness_Audio Visual Grocery’.

Thierry, the owner (R.I.P.), was a great guy and inspired me a lot. He sold little bottles of ‘Bonheur’ (see picture), a bunch of underground electronica and noise too. But as well reissues on vinyl from one of my favorite punk band of all time: Crass. And more fun stuff: cassettes from improv bands and flashy green t shirts with the word ‘wasabi’ on it :-) Well, you got the picture, not your average everyday stuff.

Le Bonheur had a gallery too. So I showed the owner my manifesto and he raved about it. "Why don’t you exhibit here within a few months?". Sure thing!

But I wasn’t so sure… I never did set up an exhibition in my life before.