Style Insider: Julie Lambe, Gaffer

Style Insider: Jules Lambe - Black Leather Biker Jacket Close-up
By   /  March 13, 2014

Australian born Julie Lambe started Gaffer Ltd in 2003.  Julie was a pioneer in bringing glass art to Hong Kong. With Gaffer Ltd she brought art works from Australian glass artists to Hong Kong and her work in art has evolved from a gallery representing artists to an art consultancy firm with an impressive list of big hotel brands like Peninsula, Four Seasons, Hyatt, Mandarin Oriental and Venetian Macau.

She actively champions Australian based Asian artists like Chinese painter – Song Ling who’s work has sold at Christies and introducing them to the Hong Kong, Asia and International art scenes with exhibitions all over Asia and Los Angeles and at the Venice Biennale. Alway stylish, Jules talks art with Butterboom and shares her insight on emerging Asian artists.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into Art…

I grew up in Adelaide in Australia and moved to Melbourne when I was 21. I’m a bit of a nomad, before moving to Hong Kong in 2001, I lived in Dublin and Tokyo. I studied art, design and photography but did not get into the art business till later.

I started out working  as an apprentice pastry chef for an executive party chef which lead to a position in a 2 Michelin star restaurant in Dublin.  However my passion was always in Art,  I had always collected art and when I was on holiday in Hong Kong and saw how the art scene was just taking off, I decided to jump in.  I knew many Australian artists and saw there was  market for their work in Hong Kong and this lead to the opening of Gaffer in 2003.  I also love the fact that with the art business, I get to fulfill my love of travelling. I  travel a lot,  visiting artists and exhibiting their work at art fairs in lots of the major cities in Asia, Los Angeles and in Europe too.


Art is…

My passion and my professional career.

A quote that inspires you..

Be kind to yourself and in return you be kind and generous to your friends and loved ones.

Asian Artists are a good investment because…

Investing is buying anything with the view of potential growth to resell at profit. You are really just applying the same basis principle when investing in art. Asia’s growth over the decade and moving forward has alot of upside and with more wealth being created in this part of the world, work by Asian artists naturally appreciates.

If you are interested in investment, start by visiting gallery exhibitions. Young emerging artists that are consistently exhibiting locally and internationally in solo, groups, biennales or museum shows or artists with a wider international audience of collectors are a safer bet for resale on the secondary market. Having said that you should always buy artwork you like first and foremost.


Best advice you can give to someone who is looking to start collecting art…

  1. Visit lots of art galleries, museum, art auctions and exhibitions.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions.
  3. Read as much as you can.  In fact subscribe to art publications like Asia Art News, they have been writing about Asian Art for over 20 years.
  4. Do your research. Visit Asian Art Archive, they have an amazing  library of Asian art.
  5. More importantly, buy the  work you like.

What have you bought and why did you buy them?

I bought an oil and red pencil canvas piece from Terri Brooks. She is a Melbourne based artist and has exhibited in London, Germany and Australia.

I also have a collection of small original ink  and pencil on paper by Chinese artist- Graham Kuo who lives in Sydney. His work is collected by MOMO and is in numerous museum collections. His  work is a fusion of eastern and western abstraction that I relate to.

I also own a collection of blue and white North Korean ceramics I brought when on holiday in 2006.

Top 10 Asian artists to watch…

I have always thought that Thai artists are under-rated.  There’s Jakkai Siributi and Kamin Lertchaiprasert who are at top on my list of artists to watch out for. The Guggenheim have a vast collection of his work and he has exhibited at the Venice and Sydney Biennale.

Other Thai artists to watch are Niti Wattuya, Designer Korakot who exhibited at the Milan design fair. The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore has bought some pieces of his work.

Chinese oil painter Chen Ping has exhibited in the 2013 Venice Biennale and has staged major solo museum shows in Beijing mid 2014.

Song Ling his 85 New Wave works have been widely published in various books on Chinese Contemporary Art.  When he came to Melbourne in 1988 he was unknown in the Chinese art world until he sold his 85/86 piece at Sothebys in 2012.  Song Ling will have a his first retrospective exhibition featuring artworks across 30 years including loaned works from Yuz Foundation & Long museum in Shanghai.

Hanoi based Glen Clarke is also someone to watch, his work has attracted the attention from important international curators and collectors.

Also look at Indonesia artists such as Eddie HaraAlfi Jumaldi.

Annie Hsiao-Wen Wang who’s a Taiwanese had two sell out exhibition in Taiwan and Sydney in 2013 and was selected into the Wynne Prize held in the art gallery of New South Wales.


Top 3 Emerging Artists…

  • Vietnamese artist Truong Tan.
  • Chinese contemporary ink Wang Tiande.
  • Korean master modernism artist Park Seo Bo, he is considered the grand- father of Contemporary Korean art.

Top 10 galleries in Hong Kong to visit..

  • White Cube, contemporary art gallery own by Jay Jopling famous for curating some of the leading British artist of our times like Damien Hirst,Tracy Emin.
  • Art Statements – Gallery director Dominique has amazing stable of Western and Asian artists including Dale Frank.
  • Rossi & Rossi has an interesting stable of Middle Eastern, Asia contemporary art and antiques.
  • Grotto host lots of exhibition of some of Hong Kong best artists.
  • Sin Sin offers a good stable of work by Indonesia artists.
  • Feast Projects has an amazing space in Ap Lei Chau.
  • Studio Rouge Hollywood Road where I exhibit artists I represent.
  • Plum Blossoms new gallery in Wong Chuk Hang.
  • Pekin Fine Arts again in Wong Chuk Hang.

Most important art fair to attend…

  • Venice Biennale
  • Sydney Biennale
  • Milan Design Fair
  • Sculpture by the Sea, Sydney
  • Art Basel in Basel


Describe your style…

Classic and tailored.

What does your work wardrobe consist of mostly?

I like to mix and match high street fashion with the luxury brand pieces I have. It can be a simple Zara dress that I would accessorized with Hermes or Loewe belts. They  are timeless pieces to invest in. My clothes have to be stylish and comfortable as working in art industry means I am packing and unpacking works of art.

A style mantra..

I have a few..coming from Australia where the sun is very strong, I am paranoid about my skin. So always wear sunscreen and invest in good skin care products. Find a good tailor to tweak off the rack clothes and get a good hair dresser. I go to Pauline at The Firm who’s been cutting my hair since 2002.

 3 Online shops I shop at…

  • ASOS has a wide variety of styles and brands and the sales are great
  • Victoria Secret for their undies and swimwear
  • Ella Bache for my sunscreen

Top sites to buy art online …

  • Amazon art online is amazing, it has over 55,000 galleries now and it is growing every day
  • Artnet online auctions
  • Visiting gallery websites has become a popular way of buying art online

Photographer: Joyce Yung


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