"Carving in Britain from 1910"
revealed former Cat Street Gallery curator Kate Bryan to be a formidable and innovative curator. As the art market increases in importance in Hong Kong (due to the money it turns over) it would be quite handy for government and big commerce to have a home -grown, vibrant art scene pop out of the cupboard right about now. But anyone who has ever lived in a city that really does have one, knows Hong Kong is a way off having a 'scene'. This is a problem for all of us. So I turned to Kate with some questions, as the contemporary curator of an institution that has watched the art world for over 150 years.
Richard Winkworth: What advice as a curator of an institute that is over 150 years old would you give to a city with a fledgling art community; on both a local and on an international level?
Kate Bryan: Give exhibitions context. Always place an artist or exhibition within a wider framework. In London we take for granted the amount and variety of access we have to art and have a robust system of interpretation in place - newspapers, magazines, online... There is a proliferation of London galleries but most crucially a proliferation of public collections. We are also fortunate to have institutional support of the ntrinsic value of culture from school age to adult museum visitors. This canâ€™t be done overnight in Hong Kong, but it is important to remember that there is a responsibility to not just create an interest in art, but to provide a means to cultivate a real appetite; one that can be developed over time into being finer in its appreciation and considered in taste.
RW: What is it like being in London and looking at the Hong Kong market, compared with what it was like being in Hong Kong and seeing it as a local/close-up market? KB: Being in London, having conversations and hearing about things anecdotally highlights how little is really known of the Hong Kong art scene, beyond an awareness of Art Basel. There also seems to be a blurring of the distinction in peopleâ€™s minds between the art that is Beijing's and the art that is created in Hong Kong. There is not really enough support for the art scene in Hong Kong. I travel back there for work three or four times a year and I have seen an enormous expansion in the number and the quality of galleries that have established themselves, but the infrastructure they need is not there.Â Also, there is no critical writing. The media is lagging behind in its reviews and coverage (outside the main art fair) in comparison to its global counterparts. The Government does not invest in public collections and there is very little dialogue between the culture department and the population concerning any form of cultural exploration. There are not the museums, galleries and institutions to sufficiently educate.
Published on Apr 17, 2013