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HK Magazine Archive

Cathy Lee on Closing Hong Kong's PubArt Gallery

After four years in Central, PubArt Gallery is closing its doors after one final exhibition, “Eat The Art.” Gallery founder Cathy Lee talks about this last show and her plans for the future.

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 July, 2016, 10:31am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 5:15pm

When did you start PubArt Gallery? I studied fine arts at university, but after graduating, I went into finance. Five years ago, I felt that it was time to move on to something I really enjoyed. I found a place in Central, and felt like it was a good place to start my business. 

What role do you think PubArt Gallery has played in Central’s art galleries? In Hong Kong, there are not many places who are willing to exhibit local artists and support them as we did. I don’t really interfere with the artists’ ideas—in fact, I always ask the artists to think outside of the box about what they can deliver to the audience. There are some galleries who schedule time for local artists, but PubArt Gallery is inspired by the artists. We have the passion to fully support them.

So why are you shutting down the gallery? I’m leaving Hong Kong! The PubArt Gallery isn’t totally shutting down, only the physical site. In the future, maybe I’ll come back and participate in art fairs or hotel shows as the gallery again, instead of just holding a place. 

Why did you choose the theme of food for your last exhibition? I am a vegetarian, and I published my own cookbook last year. I started writing about food and putting together recipes about two or three years ago. Gradually, I was inspired by raw ingredients—cooking with vegetables, I started seeing similarities between art and food. When you eat something natural, just like when you look at artwork, it connects to your soul. You start to think about what the role of the human in the world is. 

What’s the message you want to leave people with in this show? We want people to think about food and art: Do you need art the way you need food? Or do we ignore the needs of our souls? If you find that art is something you need, I want to ask how you can support the artists. A lot of local artists are not full-time artists, and they find it difficult to do their art. Some have already left the market. People should think about whether or not they can support them [either] financially or simply by showing them that they love the work. I really have to thank all the artists who participated. These 15 artists have participated in my previous shows in these last four years and have really supported me a lot. 

What’s next for you? I’m focusing on my cookbook. I have my column and I’m planning on writing two books. After I move to a new country, I’ll settle down and see if I should continue PubArt somewhere else. I don’t really have a clear plan in the future for PubArt—I’m trying to put everything online now. If you’re interested in local art, you can find and buy it online. It’s sad that I have to shut it down, but I think it will come back in another way.