Nariko, the Thunder Child

cat artwork
Nariko, Thunder Child, watercolour and coloured pencil on paper, A5, 2021, sold/IAC

On Monday last week my cat Nariko died tragically in an accident. She was 15 months old. Later in the week I sat down and created this piece in memory of her, so that I could hang it in my studio, so she could still somehow be with us.

It was very hard to begin working on this piece. I felt as if I couldn’t do it. I told myself to just work on it for five minutes and then to stop if I was too emotional to continue. I became absorbed in the creation as I remembered her and tried to capture her spirit in the piece. Nariko the fearless, Nariko the ever curious, Nariko the avid footballer with her toys, the lover of loud drum sounds, the runner towards noises, the seeker of running water. Nariko who disliked being touched, but who was always close to me, always wanting to be part of whatever I was doing. Nariko the predator, hence the bell collar she wore. Nariko who liked to play chase with my little dog and sleep in the other little dog’s bed. Nariko the uniquest of unique individuals. Nariko my familiar, quick and sure and full of flashing beauty.

Nariko came to me as one of four foster kittens, aged about four weeks, malnourished and in terrible condition. On the first night we almost lost her. I told her, ‘you are the thunder child, you will live’ as I stroked her tiny ears. I slept with her under my jersey that night and the following day she was stronger and she just kept getting stronger. She grew from a skinny bundle of claws and energy, apparently made entirely of legs, to a sleek, fluffy and gorgeous feline. I fell in love with her, and so did my cat Tamaki, who right from the beginning adopted her. I couldn’t tell my Tamaki I was giving his kitten away, nor part with her myself, and so she stayed.

Nariko’s name is Japanese, and means ‘thunder child’ and thunder child she was. Nariko, gone too soon. We remember you always. We love you always.

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