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31 Oct 2018 / by Ellen Oredsson

Meet the Team: An Artist in Arts Administration

A smiling woman with short dark hair stands in an office space next to a desk. Behind her are shelves on top of which two signs are perched, with one reading ‘The power of +’ and the other one reading ‘Hong Kong + Asia + the World’.

Loretta in the M+ office. Spotted in the background: some Art Basel booth paraphernalia. Photo from M+, Hong Kong

Loretta Chau, Manager of Administration, answers five questions about her job at M+!

What brought you to M+?

I’d say I brought myself to M+.

When I learned about the West Kowloon Cultural District and M+ museum projects from the news in around 2004–2006, I was so excited that Hong Kong, being one of the metropolitan cities in Asia, would finally have its own piece of art wonderland. At that point, I started to think about my career and the possibility of involvement in such a museum project. I love travelling and every time I visited a museum overseas, I would think about what working life would be like in a cultural environment with a great artistic atmosphere. How I would feel different in the role of museum staff compared to museum visitor. Over the years I paid great attention to M+’s job openings, and I finally got the chance in 2014 to become part of the M+ family.

Describe a typical day for you

A woman in a library stands next to a table with large pieces of paper with diagrams and post-its on them. She looks down on the papers and moves her hand across them.

Loretta working in the M+ library. Photo from M+, Hong Kong

Checking and answering emails; handling enquiries from colleagues and helping them understand the corporate policies and guidelines, and working with them on finding ways to solve problems; communicating and coordinating with different departments on recruitment-related issues, day-to-day office operational and administrative matters; general procurements and artistic engagements; pulling things together; and supporting senior management on the planning for the new museum building in the future.

What’s a moment at M+ that you’ll always remember?

A woman sits in front of a computer at a desk in an office, looking at the computer screen with her hand on the mouse. Stacks of paper can be seen surrounding her.

Loretta at her (very neat) desk. Photo from M+, Hong Kong

The day before the M+ Pavilion opened in 2016, all M+ staff members were able to have a pre-opening visit. Before that, the M+ team had been presenting exhibitions at different locations in Hong Kong in a mobile format—now we finally had our own little art hub to hold exhibitions and experiment in before the M+ museum building is in place. During that visit, I could really feel and experience the existence of M+’s first, newborn art hub. It symbolised that M+ had achieved another significant milestone, and we were getting a step closer to our goal.

Choose a work from the M+ Collections that you like or feel inspired by

Installation consisting of thousands of small clay figurines standing closely packed together. Each figurine has a head and a shapeless body, with two holes for eyes.

Antony Gormley, Asian Field, 2003, approx. 180,000 hand-sized clay figures made in collaboration with 350 people of all ages from Xiangshan village, north-east of Guangzhou, south China Clay from Guangdong Province, China, © Antony Gormley. Photo © Dai Wei (Shanghai) Courtesy White Cube

Asian Field by Antony Gormley. The whole piece consists of approximately 180,000 sculptural clay figurines, made under the guidance of the artist by around 350 villagers of all ages in Xiangshan village of Guangzhou using hundreds of tons of the local clay and kilns in a local brick factory.

It is a spectacular installation, and absolutely a meaningful and powerful project. It is not just an artwork created by one artist, but created by hundreds of people together. For the participating villagers, this project lets them know that they can touch art, be involved in the creation and manufacturing process of art, feel the taste of art, and express their emotions through art. As the clay figures are made by different people, every figure is unique with its own form, shape, texture, and expression.

A bit more than a year ago, all M+ staff members were invited by our Collection and Exhibition Department to participate in the packing process before the art piece was stored away in M+’s collection storage. Through this opportunity, we were able to touch and feel the figures in the artwork. I felt honoured to have had my little participation in the working process for such amazing masterpiece.

Name one thing you don’t think your co-workers know about you...

Photograph of a statue-like person standing on a balcony. Numerous unfolded umbrellas in different bright colours hang in the air in front of them.

A photo taken by Loretta: ‘Sculpture? Performer? Installation? Arts can be happened at any where, any time, in any forms; can also be in different forms, happened at the same time and in the same space. Arts are just like lives, always full of possibilities!’ © Loretta Chau

I was an artist many years ago. I graduated with training in theatre set and costume design, and had a very short career in that discipline. Due to different factors at different stages of life, I finally developed my career in art administration. Although I am not playing a creative role in the art industry now, my artistic academic background has had a great impact on my sense of colour, aesthetic standards, and critical thinking.

Now, I enjoy photography; just using my cell phone to capture beautiful landscapes, spectacular architecture, as well as the people and lives of a country. This gives me the chance to apply my artistic sense of colour and composition, and express my thoughts and feelings around a particular moment.

As told to Ellen Oredsson. This interview has been edited for clarity. This article was originally published on M+ Stories.

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