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Sandra Walters, groundbreaking artwork seller and agent in Hong Kong who impressed 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


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

Sandra Walters, a pioneering and tenacious art vendor and agent who experienced been a fixture of Hong Kong’s art scene given that 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 spouse, Richard, arrived in Hong Kong in 1969. The younger American pair experienced travelled throughout North Africa, the Middle East and other elements of Asia following serving in the Peace Corps in Chad.

They decided to phone in briefly on Walters’ dad and mom in Hong Kong right before returning to the United States. Dwight Scarbrough, a veteran of the US International Services, experienced been transferred to the then British colony from Paris, in which Walters acquired a like of French culture and language. The Walters finished up being, almost for superior.

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Walters started out training French at the Hong Kong Intercontinental School and German Swiss Worldwide Faculty, and gave birth to two boys, Chad and Todd. Then, 1 day, she met Josette Bertrou, a Frenchwoman whose spouse and children 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 throughout her tenure as director of Alisan High-quality Arts. Photograph: SCMP

They resolved it would be a good thought to stage exhibitions of European lithographs and etchings mainly because so little art was staying demonstrated in Hong Kong then, Walters said in a 2013 interview for the “Hong Kong Artwork Historical past Investigation” pilot challenge.

The artwork current market in the 1970s was significantly from booming, as opposed to nowadays. Walters and Bertrou registered their company, Arts Advertising, in 1973, the year of the global oil disaster.

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They centered on very affordable restricted version prints from France and the Uk, and later, primary is effective on paper. But occasionally, they managed to set on rather the blockbuster demonstrate – there was one exhibition with will work by Picasso, Miro and Chagall, she explained.

These drew the focus of Hong Kong artists such as Wucius Wong, Luis Chan and Leung Kui-ting. Later on, when Walters became an art advisor to key corporations, she grew to become just one of the to start with to put Hong Kong art with large, multinational providers.

There was a time when Walters experienced a physical art gallery. In 1981, Alice King, the daughter of shipping and delivery magnate Tung Chao-yung and sister of previous Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, the first postcolonial federal government chief, joined Arts Promotion and additional Chinese art into the combine.

They opened a room in Wellington Road, Central and, in a number of years, moved into close by Prince’s Creating, now Landmark Prince’s. They called it Alisan High-quality Arts, an amalgam of their first names.

Daphne King-yao, King’s daughter, who now operates the gallery, suggests the two women of all ages were being front runners at a time when there wasn’t the same interest as today in modern-day art created by the Chinese diaspora. They worked collectively fortunately for nearly a decade ahead of Walters still left to established up her individual gallery in the Mandarin Oriental and later on, an art consultancy small business.

That started a new chapter of her vocation which noticed her mainly assisting motels and other companies buy art. She was a shrewd negotiator and had excellent accomplishment as a businesswoman, one particular who was acknowledged to offer artwork that satisfied a client’s needs fairly than just operates that appealed to her very 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 very first centered on exhibiting economical minimal edition prints from France and the Uk, and later on, primary is effective on paper. Photo: SCMP

French financial institution Societe Generale’s Hong Kong office environment was a key early consumer for Arts Promotion, King-yao states. Then, in 2006, Walters became art expert to Hongkong Land, the largest professional landlord in Central, using more than the job that Nigel Cameron performed for a lot of several years.

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

The committee questioned Walters to assist with a in-depth audit of precisely what art the corporation experienced at the time. “Sandi was shocked by what she observed. She retained declaring, I won’t be able to believe that you are sitting down on all of this,” remembers Sherry Wong, who joined the firm 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 remaining) Keiko Packard, Mona Leong and Walters.

There are all over 350 pieces in the selection and many will work by Wong, Lui Shou-Kwan, Liu Kuo-sung and Cheung Yee have been all hidden away, she states. Thanks to Walters’ advice, all over 99 for each cent of the assortment is now on display screen, either in the several community lobbies close to Central or in the group’s offices.

She also created solutions for new commissions, these as community artist Jaffa Lam’s Rejuvenated Bonsai (2015), a sculpture manufactured with recycled components on screen in a general public place of Jardine Property.

In new yrs, there was a great deal speak of retirement, but it hardly ever actually happened. The Walters intended to shift to Paris in 2003 but alternatively continued to spend most of their time in Hong Kong as Sandra ongoing to take on assignments in the region, operating with the 4 Seasons Lodge 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 (far left) at the Hong Kong Arts Centre’s 25th anniversary celebration in 2001. Photograph: Courtesy Connie Lam Suk-yee

She wound down most of her organization at the close of 2015 to invest extra time in France, a region with which she experienced a lifelong affinity (she obtained 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 not long ago as November, she was continue to quite considerably the lady about town, and accepted an honorary membership from the Rotary Club of Hong Kong in individual (she was the club’s very first woman president from 2001-2).

Walters was back again in Paris when she endured a cerebral haemorrhage on January 18 and went into a coma. Her partner, sons and younger sister Tamara were 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 very first female president of the Rotary Club of Hong Kong. Picture: Courtesy Connie Lam Suk-yee

Her family asks these who want to make a donation in her honour to make a reward to the Rotary Club and the Hong Kong Arts Centre, where by she experienced served as a director and on different committees considering that the early 1990s.

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This report initially appeared on the South China Morning Write-up (www.scmp.com), the foremost news media reporting on China and Asia.

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