Cat Sims’ latest publication, Space, is an amalgamation of “hope, spirit and modernism” decorated in the red and black-hued pages of a printed zine. At a time of social and political change, the illustrations inside draw upon the “architecture of social housing, interiors and public environments constructed in London” and the capital’s surrounding areas.
“At a very general level, I am interested in the connection between architecture, design and social democracy which can be traced back to the Bauhaus,” Cat explains. “Regarding my drawing practice more specifically, I am interested in the notion of allegory in the work of early modernist painters such as Courbet and Manet and, in particular, their picturing of private and public space.”
Cat grew up on a low-rise estate in Bracknell, a designated new town in 1949, an experience which formed her observations on the topic of “the home” and public environments. “The image of the home is an allegorical device; it is a site of social relations and, as the title refers, the organisation of space,” she says. “The new towns and various social housing projects of the 1950s and 1960s were a crucial component, alongside education, full employment and healthcare in the realisation of a new, more equal, post-war society.”
“Freeing the worst-off from the impediments of overcrowding, disease and pollution by resourcing each with a safe and secure home was considered fundamental to bringing about substantive equality of opportunity. So, I suppose you could say that the collection of environments featured in Space are a celebration of this set of ideas.”
Dalmatians, open spaces overloaded with plants, a Black Flag record and rows of rooms built upon one another; Cat’s intricate and illustrative detailing interprets social housing and London’s architecture as a whole, through a celebration of fine-printed risograph. “I’ve become very keen on making risographs — the printing technique used to produce Space,” she notes. "This is mostly because of the vibrant colours of the inks, but also because the process as it introduces unpredictable imperfections.”