Sandra Walters, revolutionary art seller and agent in Hong Kong who encouraged the city’s artwork 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 (left) and Sandra Walters go to an exhibition titled “A Brush with Heaven and Earth”. Walters, a revolutionary art vendor and agent in Hong Kong’s art scene because the 1970s, has died in Paris at the age of 76. Picture: SCMP

Sandra Walters, a pioneering and tenacious art seller and agent who experienced been a fixture of Hong Kong’s art scene considering the fact 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 spouse, Richard, arrived in Hong Kong in 1969. The youthful American couple experienced travelled throughout North Africa, the Middle East and other areas of Asia following serving in the Peace Corps in Chad.

They determined to get in touch with in briefly on Walters’ mother and father in Hong Kong right before returning to the United States. Dwight Scarbrough, a veteran of the US International Company, experienced been transferred to the then British colony from Paris, in which Walters obtained a really like of French society and language. The Walters ended up remaining, practically for good.

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Walters started out teaching French at the Hong Kong Intercontinental University and German Swiss Intercontinental University, and gave delivery to two boys, Chad and Todd. Then, one working day, she achieved Josette Bertrou, a Frenchwoman whose loved ones represented the Parisian art gallery Vision 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 Fine Arts. Photograph: SCMP

They made a decision it would be a great concept to phase exhibitions of European lithographs and etchings mainly because so minimal art was currently being demonstrated in Hong Kong then, Walters mentioned in a 2013 interview for the “Hong Kong Art Background Exploration” pilot project.

The art market in the 1970s was far from booming, not like right now. Walters and Bertrou registered their business enterprise, Arts Marketing, in 1973, the calendar year of the world-wide oil disaster.

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They concentrated on inexpensive restricted edition prints from France and the British isles, and afterwards, authentic performs on paper. But sometimes, they managed to place on very the blockbuster clearly show – there was a person exhibition with performs by Picasso, Miro and Chagall, she explained.

These drew the notice of Hong Kong artists these as Wucius Wong, Luis Chan and Leung Kui-ting. Afterwards, when Walters turned an art specialist to key corporations, she became a person of the initially to position Hong Kong artwork with significant, multinational providers.

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 govt Tung Chee-hwa, the initial postcolonial govt leader, joined Arts Advertising and additional Chinese artwork into the mix.

They opened a place in Wellington Road, Central and, inside a handful of decades, moved into close by Prince’s Making, now Landmark Prince’s. They called it Alisan Good Arts, an amalgam of their to start with names.

Daphne King-yao, King’s daughter, who now runs the gallery, claims the two ladies ended up entrance runners at a time when there was not the exact same interest as currently in contemporary art generated by the Chinese diaspora. They labored collectively fortunately for just about a ten years in advance of Walters remaining to set up her have gallery in the Mandarin Oriental and afterwards, an art consultancy small business.

That began a new chapter of her job which saw her largely aiding lodges and other firms buy artwork. She was a shrewd negotiator and had terrific success as a businesswoman, a single who was regarded to provide art that achieved a client’s desires somewhat than just operates that appealed to her have tastes.

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

© Supplied by South China Early morning Publish
Walters at 1st focused on exhibiting reasonably priced minimal edition prints from France and the Uk, and afterwards, primary functions on paper. Photograph: SCMP

French financial institution Societe Generale’s Hong Kong place of work was a vital early customer for Arts Marketing, King-yao suggests. Then, in 2006, Walters turned art guide to Hongkong Land, the most important industrial landlord in Central, taking more than the part that Nigel Cameron performed for lots of several years.

In the course of Cameron’s time, successive Hongkong Land artwork committees experienced amassed hundreds of functions, but most of them were being in storage by the time Walters came on board. A new main government of Hongkong Land, Pang Yiu-kai, was keen to link the model with tradition and culture.

The committee asked Walters to aid with a thorough audit of accurately what artwork the company had at the time. “Sandi was stunned by what she observed. She saved indicating, I cannot think you are sitting down on all of this,” recalls Sherry Wong, who joined the enterprise 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 left) Keiko Packard, Mona Leong and Walters.

There are all-around 350 pieces in the assortment and a number of performs by Wong, Lui Shou-Kwan, Liu Kuo-sung and Cheung Yee ended up all concealed away, she suggests. Many thanks to Walters’ assistance, around 99 per cent of the assortment is now on display, either in the quite a few community lobbies around Central or in the group’s workplaces.

She also produced solutions for new commissions, this kind of as nearby artist Jaffa Lam’s Rejuvenated Bonsai (2015), a sculpture designed with recycled elements on screen in a community place of Jardine Residence.

In recent years, there was a great deal chat of retirement, but it hardly ever definitely took place. The Walters meant to move to Paris in 2003 but as an alternative ongoing to shell out most of their time in Hong Kong as Sandra ongoing to choose on initiatives in the location, functioning with the 4 Seasons Lodge and the Shangri-La Hotel 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 (much 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 business enterprise at the stop of 2015 to expend a lot more time in France, a country with which she experienced a lifelong affinity (she received 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 government). But, as just lately as November, she was continue to quite a lot the girl about town, and acknowledged an honorary membership from the Rotary Club of Hong Kong in particular person (she was the club’s initially feminine president from 2001-2).

Walters was back in Paris when she suffered a cerebral haemorrhage on January 18 and went into a coma. Her husband, sons and youthful sister Tamara have been 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 initial feminine president of the Rotary Club of Hong Kong. Photograph: Courtesy Connie Lam Suk-yee

Her household asks all those who want to make a donation in her honour to make a reward to the Rotary Club and the Hong Kong Arts Centre, where she experienced served as a director and on a variety of committees since the early 1990s.

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