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Cumberbatch the cat artist brings London to a standstill (sort of)

9 October 2019

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories

Much of central London may be sealed off, at least to vehicle traffic, with Extinction Rebellion protests blocking thoroughfares around Trafalgar Square and Westminster. But just down the road, outside the Adelphi building near the Embankment, the roads are closed for a very different reason.

Rakewell’s spies in the West End tell him that John Adam Street is blocked off for the filming of Louis Wain, a biopic of the prolific Edwardian artist (played by Benedict Cumberbatch). Wain (1860–1939) was most famous for his drawings of anthropomorphised cats – with bulging eyes, fashionable accessories and, after his transfer to Bethlem Hospital in the 1920s, psychedelic complexions. ‘He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world,’ H.G. Wells wrote.

Which means that even if you don’t catch the ’Batch if you head down to the Adelphi this week, you’ve a good chance of spotting some well-trained cat actors…

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.