‘Hong Kong Shop Cats’ by Marcel Heijnen

Little emperors of their retail kingdoms.

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来自荷兰的Marcel Heijnen1992年移居亚洲,对生活的满腔热情让他自学成才,身兼摄影师、设计师与音乐家三职。他最新的摄影系列作品“铺头猫”正于香港Blue Lotus画廊展出。

香港店铺中的猫咪正是他们小小“商业帝国”中的王者。他们居住在店铺之中,成为各自主人生活、工作和家庭中极为不可或缺的一个部分。他们之中有些从小被主人喂养,寄望他们驱动早已遗忘的本能,驱赶、捕捉老鼠,而有些其实是不请自来,顺理成章地把店铺当作了自己的家。

这系列摄影作品中所收录的猫咪大多来自香港上环、西营盘一代的老店,因为相信猫能招财,这里几乎家家户户都有养猫的习惯。而这些深受主人疼爱的猫咪热情亲人,往往也能获得客人们的喜爱,带动生意的增长,“招财猫”之称也并非浪得虚名。

HK Shop Cats book cover

BLURP:

Blue Lotus Gallery is very proud 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.

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #13

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #33

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #14

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #18

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #17

ABOUT THE BOOK AND 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 cats are 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.

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #22

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #37

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #35

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #19

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #32

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.

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #48

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #59

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #50

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #46

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #63

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #64

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #6b

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