Where Art Lives
Art has always been a big part of Katie de Tilly’s life. The long-time owner of Central art gallery 10 Chancery Lane arrived in Hong Kong at the cusp of the then emerging contemporary art scene in the late 1990s and has been at the forefront of it ever since.
The California native’s approach to art is instinctive, a quality that led to the opening of 10 Chancery Lane in the first place. The space is now an iconic fixture of Hong Kong’s circle-of-art in the Wyndham Street, Hollywood Road and Old Bailey Street area, a welcoming oasis on a quirky, steep street of Colonial-era stone steps behind the revamped Tai Kwun Heritage Building. Katie, however, says the decision to open the gallery came to her and not the other way around.
“I had just got a diploma in acupuncture and was organising art exhibitions in different venues around Hong Kong,” Katie says of her earlier life in Hong Kong. “I loved both professions and was debating which one to follow. Then, in 2001, I found 10 Chancery Lane by accident, a wonderful space with high ceilings and without another thought, I opened the gallery and have never looked back. “It was an exciting time to get involved with what was happening with artists. I felt we were making a large contribution with each exhibition we organised.” The gallery may have been one space she couldn’t pass up, but Katie has been known for her artistic choices her entire life, with her Sai Kung home a mirror to this approach to life.
More like a tropical villa in a rural seaside setting, there is room to breathe, display art and live peacefully while still being close enough to the heart of the city to commute each day – the true artists’ dream. “I love to be creative in my choices,” she says of her interior design motivations. “My home is a mix of California architecture, which in fact has a lot of Japanese influence. “The rectangular windows are also influenced by Hong Kong colonial-era homes from the mid-century.” Katie is referring to a picture wall of co-joined rectangular windows facing her garden. “I wanted to bring the outdoors inside so I surrounded the house with windows.” It may be a home facing the sea and a swimming pool, with a Balinese-inspired decorative touches, but it’s the art works Katie has collected over the years that make her home unique.
“I always loved to draw and paint growing up,” she says, “but decided against becoming an artist myself. But … art has always been a part of my life. I am so fascinated by artists, their inspirations, their way of seeing the world and translating into an art piece.” The result is a home - as Katie explains - where each work tells a story. A voyage, a journey, a friendship. “We are surrounded by the richness of inspirations and ideas. The design of my home comes together with the art intuitively.” Katie and her husband have long collected the sculptor Wang Keping and more recent artists such as Huang Rui, Dinh Q. Lê and Gu Benchi, but choosing a favourite for her would be “like choosing a favourite child”. “I have a very deep and close friendship with many of our artists and have spent some 20 years with a few of them who we admire and collect continuously bring so much to our lives.” She also loves the colours of French painter Pierre Bonnard, recently admiring one on the Tate website. “But perhaps the simplicity of a Japanese Mono-ha artist will grab me tomorrow,” she says of her many coveted works. Like a true creative, Katie approaches interior design in her home and gallery with a respect for space, light and considering geographic influences.
“I work with my feelings for things, colours and balance. Instinct guides my choices of design,” she says. And Hong Kong has served as a perfect backdrop. “I never imagined I would make my life here but Hong Kong and Asia have so much to offer and such a great lifestyle, it is really hard to leave.” Katie is a long-time friend of the Habitat team, having met Victoria Allan, Founder and Managing Director of Habitat, many years ago. “I have watched her build her incredible business over the years and have recommended her to so many friends who became her clients. Her team and her choice of properties are the best Hong Kong has to offer.”
10 Chancery Lane Gallery opened its doors in May 2001. The gallery focuses on both established and emerging artists from around the world. It is committed to giving a breath of fresh air to the Hong Kong art scene by bringing works that can expand horizons, open minds and view the world and life in general through various different eyes, ideas and souls. Art is not just decoration for our walls but a connection with our deep inner selves and the world around us.