Sandra Walters, pioneering art seller and agent in Hong Kong who encouraged the city’s art scene

a man and woman posing for a photo: Shanghai artist Hai Tien (left) and Sandra Walters attend an exhibition titled “A Brush with Heaven and Earth”. Walters, a pioneering art dealer and agent in Hong Kong’s art scene since the 1970s, has died in Paris at the age of 76. Photo: SCMP

Shanghai artist Hai Tien (remaining) and Sandra Walters go to an exhibition titled “A Brush with Heaven and Earth”. Walters, a groundbreaking artwork seller and agent in Hong Kong’s art scene considering that the 1970s, has died in Paris at the age of 76. Photo: SCMP

Sandra Walters, a groundbreaking and tenacious artwork seller and agent who had been a fixture of Hong Kong’s artwork scene given that the 1970s, has died in Paris at the age of 76.

Walters, nee Scarbrough, did not set out to function with artists when she and her dentist partner, Richard, arrived in Hong Kong in 1969. The younger American pair had travelled throughout North Africa, the Middle East and other components of Asia soon after serving in the Peace Corps in Chad.

They determined to call in briefly on Walters’ parents in Hong Kong before returning to the United States. Dwight Scarbrough, a veteran of the US Foreign Assistance, experienced been transferred to the then British colony from Paris, exactly where Walters acquired a adore of French culture and language. The Walters ended up being, approximately for good.

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Walters started off training French at the Hong Kong Global University and German Swiss Worldwide School, and gave start to two boys, Chad and Todd. Then, a person working day, she satisfied Josette Bertrou, a Frenchwoman whose relatives represented the Parisian artwork gallery Eyesight Nouvelle in Japan.

a person standing posing for the camera: Walters during her tenure as director of Alisan Fine Arts. Photo: SCMP

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Walters during her tenure as director of Alisan Fantastic Arts. Photograph: SCMP

They determined it would be a superior notion to stage exhibitions of European lithographs and etchings for the reason that so small artwork was being demonstrated in Hong Kong then, Walters claimed in a 2013 job interview for the “Hong Kong Art Record Investigate” pilot task.

The artwork market in the 1970s was far from booming, as opposed to now. Walters and Bertrou registered their business enterprise, Arts Promotion, in 1973, the calendar year of the worldwide oil disaster.

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They targeted on affordable confined edition prints from France and the British isles, and afterwards, authentic will work on paper. But in some cases, they managed to place on quite the blockbuster display – there was a single exhibition with functions by Picasso, Miro and Chagall, she mentioned.

These drew the consideration of Hong Kong artists these types of as Wucius Wong, Luis Chan and Leung Kui-ting. Afterwards, when Walters grew to become an artwork advisor to significant companies, she turned a person of the initial to location Hong Kong artwork with substantial, multinational organizations.

There was a time when Walters experienced a bodily art gallery. In 1981, Alice King, the daughter of shipping and delivery magnate Tung Chao-yung and sister of former Hong Kong main executive Tung Chee-hwa, the initially postcolonial authorities chief, joined Arts Advertising and included Chinese artwork into the mix.

They opened a space in Wellington Street, Central and, within a couple of years, moved into close by Prince’s Setting up, now Landmark Prince’s. They identified as it Alisan Wonderful Arts, an amalgam of their 1st names.

Daphne King-yao, King’s daughter, who now runs the gallery, says the two gals have been front runners at a time when there was not the same fascination as these days in fashionable art made by the Chinese diaspora. They labored with each other fortunately for virtually a 10 years ahead of Walters left to established up her very own gallery in the Mandarin Oriental and later, an art consultancy company.

That began a new chapter of her vocation which noticed her mostly helping accommodations and other organizations get art. She was a shrewd negotiator and experienced fantastic results as a businesswoman, one who was recognised to sell artwork that satisfied a client’s requires fairly than just functions that appealed to her possess preferences.

a man standing in a room: Walters at first focused on exhibiting affordable limited edition prints from France and the UK, and later, original works on paper. Photo: SCMP

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Walters at very first focused on exhibiting inexpensive minimal edition prints from France and the British isles, and afterwards, unique is effective on paper. Photo: SCMP

French bank Societe Generale’s Hong Kong office environment was a important early client for Arts Promotion, King-yao suggests. Then, in 2006, Walters became artwork guide to Hongkong Land, the most important commercial landlord in Central, using in excess of the part that Nigel Cameron performed for many several years.

In the course of Cameron’s time, successive Hongkong Land art committees had amassed hundreds of works, but most of them had been in storage by the time Walters came on board. A new main government of Hongkong Land, Pang Yiu-kai, was eager to hook up the manufacturer with culture and culture.

The committee requested Walters to assistance with a comprehensive audit of just what artwork the business experienced at the time. “Sandi was shocked by what she identified. She stored saying, I can not believe that you are sitting on all of this,” remembers Sherry Wong, who joined the corporation in 2009 and is the present-day chairman of its art committee.

a group of people posing for the camera: (From left) Keiko Packard, Mona Leong and Walters.

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(From remaining) Keiko Packard, Mona Leong and Walters.

There are all-around 350 parts in the selection and numerous performs by Wong, Lui Shou-Kwan, Liu Kuo-sung and Cheung Yee have been all concealed absent, she says. Thanks to Walters’ direction, about 99 per cent of the assortment is now on display, possibly in the several general public lobbies close to Central or in the group’s offices.

She also produced recommendations for new commissions, this sort of as neighborhood artist Jaffa Lam’s Rejuvenated Bonsai (2015), a sculpture produced with recycled elements on display screen in a general public region of Jardine House.

In modern a long time, there was significantly speak of retirement, but it never definitely occurred. The Walters meant to go to Paris in 2003 but alternatively continued to devote most of their time in Hong Kong as Sandra ongoing to just take on assignments in the region, operating with the 4 Seasons Hotel and the Shangri-La Lodge Group.

Donald Tsang, Stanley Ho, Blair Fowler posing for a photo: Walters (far left) at the Hong Kong Arts Centre's 25th anniversary celebration in 2001. Photo: Courtesy Connie Lam Suk-yee

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Walters (considerably left) at the Hong Kong Arts Centre’s 25th anniversary celebration in 2001. Photo: Courtesy Connie Lam Suk-yee

She wound down most of her organization at the finish of 2015 to invest far more time in France, a state with which she had a lifelong affinity (she acquired the Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1989 and the Chevalier de l’Order Countrywide du Merite in 2016 from the French government). But, as recently as November, she was however very much the female about city, and acknowledged an honorary membership from the Rotary Club of Hong Kong in person (she was the club’s very first feminine president from 2001-2).

Walters was again in Paris when she experienced a cerebral haemorrhage on January 18 and went into a coma. Her husband, sons and youthful sister Tamara ended up with her when she died on January 30.

Walters was the first female president of the Rotary Club of Hong Kong. Photo: Courtesy Connie Lam Suk-yee

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Walters was the initially woman president of the Rotary Club of Hong Kong. Photo: Courtesy Connie Lam Suk-yee

Her household asks those who want to make a donation in her honour to make a gift to the Rotary Club and the Hong Kong Arts Centre, where she had served as a director and on many committees given that the early 1990s.

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