Once upon a time, a girl fell in love with a city. This beautiful, jungle metropolis of a city where a skyscraper is just as at home as a little temple, and the two often share a street corner. My boyfriend was born and raised there, and while I was studying in London — before we were dating — he urged me to come visit him. I hemmed and hawed for awhile, but then he went and bought the ticket, and it was done.
Ever since, I’ve been looking for a way back. Hong Kong is a thriving city, but it takes minutes to escape into the foggy mountains. Our days were filled with trips to pristine, empty beaches and long hikes that were always worth the view. It became, very quickly, one of my favourite places in the world.
Not long after we started dating, I surrendered my heart to both the man and the place. We were going to move back to Asia, we decided. And so I began learning my fourth and hardest language: Chinese. When we moved to Boston, I enrolled at Harvard to continue my Mandarin lessons. Today, I’m applying for a master’s in global marketing and PR that will begin next fall. But next spring-summer, I will be back here, in Hong Kong, on a four month immersion program that I hope will leave me functional, if not fluent.
I want to disappear into this beautiful city, and write my name in the white white sand.
The first painting of what I hope will be a beautiful collection <3
I adore art. In another life, or perhaps a later life, I’d love to open a beautiful gallery — or live in an apartment that doubles as one ^~ I don’t boast of a particular “eye” when it comes to my curating, but I do adhere to the guidelines I’ve gleaned from some of the wisest women in my life (who all, as it happens, boast of beautiful art collections of their own). Here they are, and may they guide you as they’ve guided me:
- You’ll find, that when you collect artwork, it will all be cohesive, no matter how eclectic, because it will all be to your taste. Don’t shy away from outliers.
- Never buy as an investment – buy the paintings that make your brain go “BANG” in some way. If they appreciate in value, wonderful. If they don’t, you’ll still adore them.
- Never worry about anybody’s taste but your own.
As a 25-year-old, I’ll add my little bit of wisdom, too:
- Tastes do change – but what a beautiful trail of breadcrumbs to leave.
My personal collection consists of lithographs, beautiful black and white photography, a museum poster from an exhibit in Paris, and a small portrait of a woman printed onto a metallic backing that I found at a market in Boston. Our decorating style is minimal; white-on-white modern, with pops of colour from my artwork and the fresh flowers that I insist on putting on top of every free flat surface. (I’ve often said that my dream home would resemble a gallery/greenhouse.)
But despite my affinity for artwork, I had yet to graduate to the world of paintings. Other than a sketch of a horse I had done with Chinese inks on a rainy evening in Hong Kong, there were no original works in our studio. I longed for the slight inaccuracy of brushwork, the faint scent of oil and the communication between you, the artist and his subject. I wanted my first painting to be bold. I wanted my first painting to be of a woman, because in my mind, there’s no subject more suitable.
Five months ago, I received an email from one of the galleries I had subscribed to. The owner attached a few pictures with a casual little note, completely unaware of the lifelong impact he was about to make: “I thought you’d quite like this!”
BANG!, went my brain, along with a cacophony of other physical symptoms: head swimming, heart pounding, stomach fluttering. (Fetch the smelling salts, quick!)
Over the next five months, I scrimped and saved and questioned my judgement. I wrote freelance pieces, I sold clothes on craigslist, I walked instead of taking the subway/taxis, and I saved every penny until I approached the price the gallery owner and I had agreed to. He, charming gentleman that he was, lowered his price still further as the weeks went by.
The painting arrived from Thailand a week after I sent the most significant wire transfer of my life. As we unrolled it, the studio filled with the smell of paint, and we found ourselves staring into the young woman’s intense gaze. I took the canvas to a nearby art supply store to be stretched and mounted, and then skipped over to Crate & Barrel to buy some champagne flutes.
That evening, we toasted to the start of my collection, and I took my first sip as a curator.
It was sweet indeed ^~