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Why this artist is drawn to Hong Kong

By: Melissa Stevens

Hong Kong has long captured the imagination of creative types, including artist Lorette Roberts. For her, it has led to a long and rich career, which has seen her produce art, cards, prints and a Hong Kong calendar every year. She also makes regular trips to the city to hold artist workshops. We spoke to the UK-based former expat and painter about her work.

When did your connection with Hong Kong start?

I first started to come to Hong Kong in 1992 to visit Bill, my husband, who was involved with airport projects. I instantly liked the place, and naturally started to paint anything that caught my eye – mainly elements of Chinese culture, costumes, buildings and, of course, red doors and post boxes. I settled in Hong Kong in 1997 and held many shows, exhibitions and fairs over the next few years.

image of painter Lorette Roberts who holds regular artist workshops

How did your business begin?

When we were thinking about leaving, it occurred to me that Bill might appreciate a pictorial memory of Hong Kong. I started this, but I quickly realised that it was far too much work for just an album for Bill! By October 2003, it had morphed into Sights & Secrets of Hong Kong. My first book had arrived! Flushed by this success (the book has been reprinted eight times including a second edition), I followed it up with cards, calendars, more books (including a colouring book), umbrellas, mats, coasters, notebooks, original paintings and prints. My business was established and was registered in Hong Kong as Lorette E. Roberts Originals in December 2004. We returned to the UK in March 2006, but we come to Hong Kong every year.

Why do you love it here?

Hong Kong provides inspiration in spades, given its people, culture, traditions, food, ceremonies, language, written characters, buildings and long history. I was also struggling as a woman and a mother in the 1970s and 80s to get a foothold as a business in the UK. By contrast, I found it was very easy to start one in Hong Kong, where things appear to lie on a level playing field.

Tell us about the artist workshops you hold in Hong Kong

I offer solutions from simple painting techniques for beginners to problem solving or creating specific effects for the more experienced painter. In this way, everyone finds their own style and subjects. Workshops are limited to six persons so that I can give proper attention to all as needed. I will hold these again this coming October/November.

What are your next projects?

I’m currently working on two new books, one of which is of boats that I’ve seen around the world, particularly in Hong Kong. This should be available by the time I arrive in October this year for some artist workshops.

For details about workshops or to view more of Lorette’s work, go to loretteroberts.com.

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This article first appeared in the April/May 2018 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.

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