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Photo exhibition: Street cats and Hong Kong’s miracle economy in the 1970s

Streets cats are often marginalised in Asia, yet they have been silent witnesses to important, transformative moments in history, such as Hong Kong’s economic boom in the 1970s. For the first-time ever, the late Sinologist Keith Steven’s extensive collection of street cat photos from this period in Hong Kong will be exhibited in Singapore at the iconic The Cathay from 1 to 30 Sept 2018.

Keith’s cat photo collection was discovered after his passing in 2015 and is believed to be the earliest and most comprehensive collection of cat photo collection in Asia. The “Cats of Keith Stevens” exhibition will travel to Hong Kong, Penang and London following its launch in Singapore.

Street cats have lived among us since time immemorial, yet they remain largely misunderstood and marginalised. Chan Chow Wah, founder of Gold-D pet products brand and organiser and curator of the exhibition said: “The exhibition aims to foster a new respect for street cats and gain recognition and appreciation for their roles as important guardians of time and history, within the context of Hong Kong’s economic boom in the 1970s.”

Chan has a Masters in Anthropology from London School of Economics (LSE) and is also a Fellow of the Royal Anthropology Institute.

The key settings of the photos include shophouses, streets and traditional businesses. Coca-cola Pepsi bottles and Vitasoy packs, among others, can be seen in the background. Together with the street cats, these “vintage” products chart the timeline for Hong Kong’s economic transformation from 1973 to 1980.

“Through the exhibition we also aim to raise awareness of community cat issues and the efforts of their caregivers.” said Chan.

The exhibition will take place at The Cathay from 1 to 30 Sept 2018, from 12 pm to 9 pm every day.

There are also scheduled tours of the exhibition. No admission fees and is a “Pay as you wish” format. The funds will be used to send food to Singapore shelter Mettacats and cat feeders.

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