Meet the muse - Mandy D'AboPOSTED 07 Oct 2015
Mandy D’Abo is one of those people! We wonder how she looks so amazing, how she manages to run such an incredible business, how she entertains with such pizazz and how she knows EVERYONE cool on the planet??? Not to mention she is always so fun and just soooo positive! When I first moved to Hong Kong in early 2002 I worked with Mandy’s gorgeous husband John and I remember being so upset that I hadn’t gotten to know them earlier. The reason being is that they got married very shortly after I met them, and seriously, it looked like a wedding to rival Poppy Delevingne’s Moroccan themed event recently. Perhaps Poppy drew inspiration from the stories about Mandy and John’s incredible wedding week in Sri Lanka?? Anyway, fast forward a few years and Mandy opened The Cat Street Gallery. I still remember the opening night very clearly, as always with a guest list that included Hong Kong’s finest. Today she has moved to bigger and better premises and represents a vast stable of impressive artists. Recently I was lucky enough to hang out with Mandy in Hong Kong and delve a little into her world of curation and collecting. I hope you enjoy!
Q & A with Mandy D’Abo
S: Thanks for letting us into your fabulous home! You’re an owner of a successful art gallery based in Hong Kong, but you’ve spent most of your life growing up and living abroad on just about every continent. This lifestyle must have impacted you and helped develop your style and taste?
M: Yes, I have definitely been somewhat of a gypsy in my life and travels! I was born in Zimbabwe and lived there until I was 11 when the family moved to England, then a stint in New York and 10 brilliant years in Sydney and have called Hong Kong home for the past 14 years. I opened the Cat Street Gallery 9 years ago.
When I was growing up I was lucky enough to have travelled a great deal. I consider it a powerful influence in my life. I still love travelling — anywhere — I could never have decorated this house and not seen the world. Travel opens up new dimensions, and imposes new depths, the melding of cultural influences, the touch of treasures collected from throughout the world.
S: They say what you wear is an expression or extension of your personality, the same can be said about your home. What does your home say about you / How would you describe your style?
M: My home is an extension of the gallery and all the artists I represent. I'm always collecting things whilst I'm on my travels and everything tells a story or has a memory - whether it is a Hamman towel I bought in Beirut or porcupine quills from Africa or antique mirror from Vietnam. I want my home to feel like a home, to be eclectic and to have soul and spirit.
S: What is your rule or tip to help find a style that suits your personality and your location?
M: Injecting your own personal style and items with a story are what makes a stunning home. Try to really push your own boundaries. Your home is the place to experiment and create those wacky ideas you have in your head. Whatever you do, don’t play it safe!
S: We know you’re an avid art collector with an excellent eye for curation - What is the most stand out piece in your home that your treasure the most?
M: An almost impossible question to answer as each of the works in my collection hold a different, but special place in my heart and the journey I have had and the time and place they came into my collection, but one of my most favourite works ‘Expedition’ is by the Australian artist Guy Maestri who was the first artist I showed when I opened the Cat Street Gallery 9 years ago. I feel very nostalgic about this work and what it represents.
S: 1) We LOVE the Lara Merrett in your living room. Is there a story behind that acquisition?
M: As soon as I first clapped eyes on Lara Merrett’s works when I was curating the works for the Australian group show ‘WATTLE’ in 2011 (the year we moved into this house) I fell in love and was determined to own one and display the work in it’s full glory! And knew exactly the spot I would hang it in our new home. Her signature is consistently bold of form, explosive of colour and undeniably romantic. Her palettes of choice sway dramatically from buttercup to storm cloud. Every time I look at it I see something new.
S: Is there a rule or guideline for the amount of pieces displayed, less is more or more is less? Can you ever over do it?
M: Take the time to consider your space and how your artwork will feel best at home. The following are some guidelines for hanging artwork, but rules are definitely meant to be broken too.
Hang artwork above a sofa, chair or table to avoid a ‘floating’ effect. Choose larger pieces or a pairing of pictures to place over substantial furniture, like a sofa. A common boo-boo is to hang pictures too high. A rule of thumb for hanging height is about 60” from the floor. A large bold piece will need space to stand back from and even a wall to itself. Don’t be afraid to keep playing and moving works around, it means you will always see them in a new light.
S: What is your most recent purchase?
M: I have been lusting after a magical Joe Webb collage work for ages! I finally succumbed and am thrilled with it. It now hangs in our bedroom so I can look at it just before I close my eyes!
Joe Webb is a brilliant British artist who uses vintage magazines and printed ephemera that he has collected to create simple but elegant hand-made collages, no Photoshop manipulation is allowed. Webb reimagines the imagery, transforming the original scene into something altogether more surreal.
S: We’re delighted to spy our Sagitine Shanghai in your house! It looks great! How have you used it?
M: I love my Sagitine Shanghai! It looks great in our kitchen and is very useful for storing a myriad of things! Herbs, vitamins, batteries, light bulbs, medicines, stationery items, envelopes, cards, passports, keys…. you name it!
S: Finally, is there a handy tip that you can pass onto our readers about curating an art collection? Where should one start?
M: Everyone has a creative side, so let yours come out and explore. Start by looking at a lot of art without buying anything. Get out, look around, be inspired and have fun! Read lots, visit galleries and ‘Open Studios’ where artists open their work spaces to the general public are a wonderful way to see work by emerging and mid-career artists. This is your opportunity to connect with the source of the art and to ask questions. Art Fairs are another great resource as it allows you to see many galleries and many types of art in a wide variety in price ranges in one place.
I always say you should buy what you are passionate about and the curating and investment side of things will take care of itself. What makes a collection interesting is that it reflects your personality, you as the collector connect the dots so buy what you love and just enjoy it.