- Hardcover: 144 pages
- Publisher: Chronicle Books; 1st Printing edition (October 1, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 081181873X
- ISBN-13: 978-0811818735
- Product Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,610,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Asleep in the Sun Hardcover – October 1, 1997
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Don't let the cover's cuddly close-up cause you to bypass this book. Asleep in the Sun is packed with beautiful composition and colors. Hans Silvester has been snapping the exquisite beasts of the Cycladic Islands for almost 20 years, and his love and patience have paid off before. In the 1993 Cats in the Sun, he notes the symbiotic rapport between Greeks and their feline gifts: cats keep the rat level within reason, and the humans "like them without exactly loving them, they care for them without exactly caring about them."
Silvester, however, obviously cares very much about them, and takes care to catch them in the best possible light. Mediterranean sun and shade sweep across rough pavements, blue sea, and white steps. Cats keep watch in the most tenuous spots, or nap on boats and buildings with elegant panache. If there is more sleeping than leaping in this book, why blame the exhausted kitties? It is the author who admits to being "an unconditional lover of the siesta." Anyway, they still look sublime.
Asleep in the Sun, the latest in a series of books documenting the feline good life as enjoyed in the Greek Islands, may be the most attractive yet. --The New York Times Review
Silvester's images are saturated in magical island light.... This is a collection to treasure, to savor, to return to again and again. -- Cat Fancy
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Who doesn't like to nap? Certainly, cats are renowned for this - the phrase 'cat-nap' is a standard English phrase for good reason. Cats also are creatures of comfort and joy -- they have a good talent for seeking out even the smallest sliver of sunlight to bask and enjoy. Single, double and in 'clumps', cats are portrayed in various settings here -- cliffs, beaches, stores, stairs, empty boxes, waterside -- every conceivable pose.
These are natural shots. Silvester does not work with trained cats, and as most people know, cats are notoriously hard to 'herd'. Silvester went everywhere with his cameras, every day, and found cats doing what they do naturally, which is most often, napping. The settings on the Cyclades Islands in Greece provide a stunning backdrop. The buildings are better than any Hollywood set could ever be; from the dramatic colours of the Mediterranean to the simple white-washed stone buildings, the colours of the cats, their fur and their eyes, provide dramatic visuals, touching images, and wonderful feelings.
Silvester is good at playing contrasts and well as blended images. The opening pages show a solid white cat at play and rest against a white-and-blue washed building in the shade -- the camoflague of the cat is subtle and effective. The calico and orange tabbies against the sandstone is also an effective blend. On the other hand, the tortoise shell cats against the green steps and the mother gray-striper with her collection of nursing kittens against the soft-coloured, light gray stone provide good contrasts.
While the title of the book, 'Asleep in the Sun', implies something about cat behaviour and the selection of photographs by Silvester, in fact Silvester never passes up a chance at a good photograph, so we are also treated to cats at play, cats on the run, and cats in various poses such as grooming and stretching.
There are no humans depicted in the photographs -- this is a book about the cats and their environment, although the human presence is very much a factor in the architecture and general layout of the place.
Silvester includes a short essay at the beginning of the book, in which he praises the Mediterranean idea of siesta and relaxation that we in the north (and those descended from northern Europeans) tend to have forgotten. Cats are companions to humans with love to offer, and means of living to teach. This is a precious book.
However, when I first became aware of his books about the cats and dogs, I was thoroughly dismayed by his choice of subject matter and the way he has chosen to portray the lives of these creatures as idyllic and carefree.
Having been to these Greek islands, I have learned firsthand that the large majority of these poor animals are ignored, injured, or mistreated by people there-anything but "respected." The photographer has omitted portraits of the true conditions for most of the stray dogs and cats in Greece-crippled, starving, dying of thirst, hurt or maimed, with the humans around them barely taking notice.
The full horror of the story was revealed to me by locals on the islands. Each year, the cats & dogs are allowed to breed uncontrolled, because tourists are fond of seeing the cute animals around and on the beaches. At the end of each tourist season, as many of them as possible are rounded up and killed (I couldn't bear to learn how), until the following year when the ones that survived begin the cycle all over again. I found this same story on all the islands I visited, including Mykonos, and I was so appalled that I shortened my stay and left Greece altogether.
The situation is a tragedy, and my feeling, as a photographer and animal lover, is that Mr. Silvester should not be misrepresenting the condition of cats and dogs on the Greek islands, especially when it is for monetary gain. I hope animal lovers around the world will agree, and send a message to anyone who profits in any way from the suffering of these dogs and cats in the sun.