‘Hong Kong Shop Cats’
by Marcel Heijnen
Pop-Up Exhibition and Book Launch
organized by Blue Lotus Gallery
9 — 18 December 2016
Opening Cocktail, Book Launch and Signing:
Friday December 9th (6-9pm)
Exhibition Runs until 18 December
Exhibition Day & Hours:
Every Day 11am — 6 pm
Pop-Up @ ZZHK Gallery
G/F, 3 Wa Lane (between 227-229 Hollywood Road)
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Opening event is sponsored by:
After the Pop-Up Event (after 18 December),
Prints and books and can be viewed and purchased at:
Blue Lotus Gallery
1606 Chai Wan Industrial City, Phase 1
60 Wing Tai Road, Chai Wan, Hong Kong
Any time on appointment apart from Sundays.
Blue Lotus Gallery is delighted to launch Marcel Heijnen’s new exciting book and exhibition project: Hong Kong Shop Cats.
Hong Kong’s shop cats are the little emperors of their retail kingdoms. When photographer Marcel Heijnen moved to the city he was immediately drawn to these photogenic mouse-hunters, and this book is the charming result. While the cats are undoubtedly the furry celebrities of his photographs, each shot delivers an insightful context of Hong Kong’s traditional trades. From dried fish and rice to paper offerings, the backdrop of each shot presents a portrait of Hong Kong’s local culture.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION:
Hong Kong Shop Cats is a playful project bundled in a very affordable book (HK$250) consisting of a series of photographs by Marcel Heijnen, introduction and cat stories by Catharine Nicol, haikus by Ian Row and calligraphy by old master Taiyuan Sensan. Hong Kong Shop Cats doesn’t only narrate the stories of the main protagonist; the shop cat, it also give us a unique insight in the traditional shops they inhabit.
The catsare believed to be lucky by their owners. They are each an essential part of the life, business and family of the shops in which they live and hunt. While some were sought out by the shop owners for their hunting skills, other cats made the decision to adopt a shop themselves, just turning up and making it their home.
In certain areas, like Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun, where many of the cats in this book live, you’ll find almost every local shop has a cat. Owners believe the mere smell of cat heralds danger to mice, so even if the, ahem, less fit among them have lost their hunting instincts, just being in residence is enough.
The shop owners, without fail, have grown to love their feline companions. Not only for the company they offer day in, day out, but also for their business skills. The cats, especially the playful ones, bring customers into the shop by enlivening the atmosphere and providing a friendly welcome. They create an extra bond with the customers and can even exert some of their mysterious influence in boosting sales. It seems the cats’ lucky reputation is more than just a legend.
As per the artist:
“In most modern cities there will be all kinds of rules and regulations against cats in shops. Not in Hong Kong, and I’m grateful for that. Here we can still witness this wonderful symbiotic relationship between human and feline, and the very reason for it harks back to why we domesticated cats in the first place, centuries ago: mice-catching and companionship.
And yes, it’s about the cats. But it kind of isn’t at the same time. It’s just as much about the context; these chaotic-yet-organically-organised traditional Chinese shops that form beautiful photogenic subjects in their own right. Places in which time seems to have stood still, devoid of branding and all the other modern-day retail trickery we’ve grown accustomed to.]
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Marcel Heijnen is a photographer, designer and musician. Originally from the Netherlands, he has called Asia his home since 1992. Self-taught in nearly everything he does, Marcel’s creativity is driven by a general curiosity about life and its meaning.
He works, often concurrently, on a number ofphoto series, capturing vastly different aspects of life in Asia, but with urbanisation and impermanence as underlying themes. This is his second photography project bundled in a book, and the first in the Chinese Whiskers series.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
‘Hong Kong Cat Shops’
by Marcel Heijnen
published by Asia One Publishing , Hong Kong 2016
170 x 225 mm, soft cover
English and Chinese