August 15, 2022


Make Somone Happy

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

6 min read

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

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

Walters, nee Scarbrough, did not established out to operate with artists when she and her dentist husband, Richard, arrived in Hong Kong in 1969. The younger American pair had travelled throughout North Africa, the Center East and other areas of Asia immediately after serving in the Peace Corps in Chad.

They made a decision to simply call in briefly on Walters’ moms and dads in Hong Kong just before returning to the United States. Dwight Scarbrough, a veteran of the US Overseas Services, had been transferred to the then British colony from Paris, where by Walters acquired a love of French lifestyle and language. The Walters ended up keeping, virtually for great.

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Walters commenced educating French at the Hong Kong Intercontinental University and German Swiss Global Faculty, and gave beginning to two boys, Chad and Todd. Then, a single working day, she satisfied Josette Bertrou, a Frenchwoman whose relatives represented the Parisian art 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 all through her tenure as director of Alisan Wonderful Arts. Image: SCMP

They resolved it would be a great idea to stage exhibitions of European lithographs and etchings because so minimal art was staying revealed in Hong Kong then, Walters said in a 2013 interview for the “Hong Kong Artwork History Investigation” pilot venture.

The art market place in the 1970s was much from booming, contrary to currently. Walters and Bertrou registered their business enterprise, Arts Promotion, in 1973, the year of the global oil crisis.

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They focused on very affordable limited version prints from France and the Uk, and afterwards, primary functions on paper. But in some cases, they managed to place on pretty the blockbuster exhibit – there was 1 exhibition with functions by Picasso, Miro and Chagall, she claimed.

These drew the focus of Hong Kong artists these kinds of as Wucius Wong, Luis Chan and Leung Kui-ting. Afterwards, when Walters became an art advisor to important firms, she became a person of the first to put Hong Kong artwork with massive, multinational companies.

There was a time when Walters experienced a actual physical art gallery. In 1981, Alice King, the daughter of shipping and delivery magnate Tung Chao-yung and sister of former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, the very first postcolonial governing administration leader, joined Arts Marketing and added Chinese art into the blend.

They opened a room in Wellington Street, Central and, within just a number of years, moved into close by Prince’s Creating, now Landmark Prince’s. They called it Alisan Wonderful Arts, an amalgam of their very first names.

Daphne King-yao, King’s daughter, who now operates the gallery, suggests the two women had been front runners at a time when there wasn’t the similar fascination as today in fashionable artwork developed by the Chinese diaspora. They labored jointly fortunately for just about a ten years ahead of Walters remaining to set up her very own gallery in the Mandarin Oriental and later on, an art consultancy organization.

That started a new chapter of her vocation which noticed her mainly encouraging inns and other corporations get art. She was a shrewd negotiator and experienced great results as a businesswoman, 1 who was regarded to sell artwork that achieved a client’s demands somewhat than just is effective that appealed to her own 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 initial concentrated on exhibiting inexpensive confined edition prints from France and the United kingdom, and later, unique operates on paper. Photograph: SCMP

French financial institution Societe Generale’s Hong Kong place of work was a essential early customer for Arts Marketing, King-yao says. Then, in 2006, Walters turned art marketing consultant to Hongkong Land, the largest commercial landlord in Central, using around the purpose that Nigel Cameron played for numerous many years.

During Cameron’s time, successive Hongkong Land art committees experienced amassed hundreds of is effective, but most of them were in storage by the time Walters came on board. A new main executive of Hongkong Land, Pang Yiu-kai, was keen to hook up the brand name with lifestyle and society.

The committee requested Walters to help with a detailed audit of specifically what art the business had at the time. “Sandi was stunned by what she observed. She retained indicating, I can not believe that you are sitting down on all of this,” recollects Sherry Wong, who joined the business in 2009 and is the current 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 left) Keiko Packard, Mona Leong and Walters.

There are all over 350 parts in the collection and various is effective by Wong, Lui Shou-Kwan, Liu Kuo-sung and Cheung Yee had been all hidden away, she suggests. Many thanks to Walters’ direction, all over 99 per cent of the selection is now on show, both in the lots of general public lobbies all around Central or in the group’s places of work.

She also designed strategies for new commissions, such as nearby artist Jaffa Lam’s Rejuvenated Bonsai (2015), a sculpture designed with recycled supplies on display screen in a public space of Jardine Home.

In the latest years, there was considerably speak of retirement, but it hardly ever seriously occurred. The Walters intended to transfer to Paris in 2003 but instead continued to shell out most of their time in Hong Kong as Sandra continued to get on projects in the location, operating with the 4 Seasons Resort and the Shangri-La Lodge Team.

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

She wound down most of her enterprise at the conclude of 2015 to commit much more time in France, a region 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 Nationwide du Merite in 2016 from the French authorities). But, as not too long ago as November, she was nonetheless quite much the woman about city, and recognized an honorary membership from the Rotary Club of Hong Kong in individual (she was the club’s very first feminine president from 2001-2).

Walters was back again in Paris when she suffered a cerebral haemorrhage on January 18 and went into a coma. Her husband, sons and more youthful sister Tamara were being 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 to start with woman president of the Rotary Club of Hong Kong. Image: Courtesy Connie Lam Suk-yee

Her family members asks these who want to make a donation in her honour to make a gift to the Rotary Club and the Hong Kong Arts Centre, in which she had served as a director and on several committees since the early 1990s.

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