Out of the Shad­ows

Through re­mark­able strength of will, she has turned trauma into tri­umph. Quee­nie Rosita Law tells Chloe Street how her in­nate cre­ativ­ity helped put the or­deal of her 2015 kid­nap­ping be­hind her and opened up a fu­ture fo­cused on art, pas­sion and pos­i­tiv­ity

Hong Kong Tatler - - Around Asia - Pho­tog­ra­phy richard ramos Styling Jus­tine Lee

Through re­mark­able strength of will, she has turned trauma into tri­umph. We sit down with Quee­nie Rosita Law to dis­cuss how her in­nate cre­ativ­ity helped put the or­deal of her 2015 kid­nap­ping be­hind her and opened up a fu­ture fo­cused on art, pas­sion and pos­i­tiv­ity

I had no idea my mind was so strong un­til it hap­pened,” says Quee­nie Rosita Law of the four-day or­deal she en­dured at the hands of kid­nap­pers in April 2015. Taken by a gang of six main­lan­ders when they ran­sacked her fam­ily’s Sai Kung home, she was held cap­tive in a tent in a for­est-shrouded cave on Kowloon Peak. Though she had feared for her life, as she told the Shen­zhen trial of one of her kid­nap­pers, Quee­nie is able to talk about her or­deal in a calm and philo­soph­i­cal man­ner, proud of the men­tal for­ti­tude she dis­cov­ered. “It was al­most like go­ing to a med­i­ta­tion camp,” she says. “It cut me off from life—my phone, the in­ter­net—so I re­ally had to rely on my thoughts. It made me re­alise my mind is ac­tu­ally very calm and fo­cused.”

The grand­daugh­ter of Bossini founder Law Ting-pong was re­leased af­ter a HK$28 mil­lion ran­som was paid by her prop­erty in­vestor fa­ther, Ray­mond Law Ka-kui. A man­hunt in Hong Kong and the main­land re­sulted in the ar­rest of 10 kid­nap­pers and co-con­spir­a­tors, who were tried in var­i­ous juris­dic­tions last year and jailed for terms of be­tween 22 months and 15 years. All the ran­som was re­cov­ered, but in dribs and drabs, buried in bags dot­ted around the Hong Kong coun­try­side and across the bor­der, along with HK$3 mil­lion worth of jew­ellery stolen from Quee­nie’s home dur­ing the raid.

While Quee­nie es­caped phys­i­cally un­harmed, one could be for­given for ex­pect­ing her to be emo­tion­ally scarred by the kid­nap­ping, along with the en­su­ing pub­lic­ity and tri­als. But not Quee­nie. With her strength of will and char­ac­ter, she has thrown off what for many would have been long years of anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion. “It’s not the worst thing that could have hap­pened,” she says. “It’s a life ex­pe­ri­ence, so I treat it like that. I’ve learnt some­thing from it.”

The 30-year-old en­tre­pre­neur wants to use that ex­pe­ri­ence to help oth­ers cope with trauma. To this end, she has writ­ten a book about the kid­nap­ping. “Through my de­scrib­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence, the reader can un­der­stand what I was think­ing about at each mo­ment, what I learned and how I dealt with it.” The mem­oir also de­tails the saga her par­ents en­dured and the ef­forts to bring her cap­tors to jus­tice.

In pen­ning the work, Quee­nie’s main mo­ti­va­tion was to demon­strate that a trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence need not break you. “It’s about how you can be stronger in your mind­set to go through dif­fi­cul­ties, even if it’s not smooth sailing for you at that given mo­ment. We can­not give up on life, be­cause noth­ing is ever smooth sailing.” The Chi­nese ver­sion, ti­tled 歴劫生命, will be pub­lished by the Hong Kong Eco­nomic Jour­nal and launched at the Hong Kong Book Fair next month. The English trans­la­tion will fol­low next year.

While the act of writ­ing a book can be a cathar­tic re­lease, it takes some guts to re­live such an or­deal so soon af­ter the event. Were her par­ents wor­ried about their youngest daugh­ter dredg­ing up the past? “Not re­ally. I’m quite a brave per­son. I don’t think they were wor­ried.” Quee­nie says she had fully re­cov­ered from the kid­nap­ping within three or four months—great re­silience, in­deed. “I think peo­ple find it quite shock­ing and weird that I was able to move on so fast, but I think it’s my char­ac­ter,” she says. “I’m very pos­i­tive in gen­eral, so I don’t get hung up on neg­a­tive think­ing. I think it’s how my mind is trained as a cre­ative, to keep on think­ing in a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive and to keep look­ing at a sub­ject in a dif­fer­ent way.”

In the She­ung Wan of­fice of Pro­duc­tion Q, the com­pany she founded in 2014, her cre­ativ­ity is ev­i­dent, as is her train­ing at Cen­tral St Martins in Lon­don, from which she grad­u­ated in 2009 with a de­gree in graphic de­sign. Lean­ing against ev­ery wall and sur­face are stacks of can­vases—beau­ti­ful blown-up black-and-white pho­tographs, cap­tured by Quee­nie on her film cam­era, which she has art­fully aug­mented with paint. Some she will

sell as orig­i­nal art­works, while oth­ers will go to clients for print­ing onto ob­jects.

Her own art and busi­ness, how­ever, were not Quee­nie’s im­me­di­ate post-grad­u­ate fo­cus. The first two years af­ter Cen­tral St Martins were spent jump­ing back and forth be­tween Lon­don and Hong Kong, where she was work­ing with her fa­ther’s prop­erty com­pany on de­sign aspects of the Park Ho­tel, which it was build­ing in Tsim Sha Tsui. Then, crav­ing a more per­ma­nent base and an ad­ven­ture, Quee­nie moved to Paris in 2011 for a job at the cre­ative agency Art Part­ner, work­ing in pho­to­graphic pro­duc­tion, book­ing pho­tog­ra­phers and or­gan­is­ing shoots, with a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on the Asia mar­ket.

To­wards the end of her two-year so­journ in the City of Light, Quee­nie had an idea for a new type of travel guide, a con­cept that would ul­ti­mately trig­ger the launch­ing of her own busi­ness. “I was walk­ing around the streets of Paris in July—there are a lot of tourists at that time of year—and I no­ticed ev­ery­one was tak­ing the same pic­tures of the same land­marks.

When you look at Google images, it’s the same pic­ture, but you don’t know the per­son’s story be­hind it, the his­tory and mean­ing of it, and how that place ac­tu­ally cre­ated an ex­pe­ri­ence for them on their trip.” She came up with the con­cept of a guide book in which artists’ images of places, rather than pho­tos, would en­rich the reader’s ex­pe­ri­ence. “I re­alised the more artists I could in­clude, the more per­spec­tives one could use to view a city. Even if it’s the same city, the same street, the same lamp­post, each view in­spires an artist dif­fer­ently.”

Quee­nie was still pon­der­ing the con­cept, which she called the City Book, when she de­cided to re­turn to Hong Kong to live in the au­tumn of 2013, and her fa­ther en­cour­aged her to set up a com­pany to re­alise it. “Dad made it all sound so easy. He in­sisted that if I were go­ing to start a busi­ness, it would have to be in Hong Kong as all my con­nec­tions are here. I think he mainly just wanted me to come home; I don’t think he re­ally cared about the City Book back then.” Af­ter some tough months of de­tailed prepa­ra­tion—“i

didn’t study busi­ness so I had no idea how to do any of it”—pro­duc­tion Q was born in the sum­mer of 2014.

Ini­tially, Quee­nie spent about four months work­ing on the first book, which was to be a guide to Hong Kong. But just as it was due to go to print, she got cold feet. “I wasn’t sure I was ready. I wasn’t afraid of what the pub­lic would think of the books—i’m con­fi­dent about my own work— it was more that I didn’t want the artists I was work­ing with to be dis­ap­pointed by the out­come. Like, yeah, I have the money to pub­lish it, but what hap­pens after­wards?” So the book project was put on hold (it was even­tu­ally pub­lished in late 2015 and a Sin­ga­pore ver­sion came out last year) and she fo­cused on pho­to­graphic pro­duc­tion, bol­stered by her Paris ex­pe­ri­ence, for Pro­duc­tion Q’s clients.

The young en­tre­pre­neur’s own artis­tic cre­ativ­ity had been tak­ing a back seat for some time, but that be­gan to change in late 2014 af­ter Quee­nie In­sta­grammed one of her painted-photo art­works. The im­age re­ceived an over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive re­sponse, lead­ing her to feel her own art could be­come part of her busi­ness. This was re­in­forced by a res­o­lu­tion in­spired by her kid­nap­ping a short time later to fo­cus her at­ten­tion only on things about which she felt pas­sion­ate, rather than to be driven by a de­sire for fi­nan­cial gain. “In a way it [the kid­nap­ping] helped me to fig­ure out what I was do­ing. It paused ev­ery­thing we had been work­ing on and gave me time to think.” She de­cided to step back from pho­to­graphic pro­duc­tion for clients to fo­cus on her own im­age cre­ation.

“Not a lot of peo­ple can af­ford art, so I wanted to cre­ate af­ford­able life­style ob­jects us­ing art.” She ini­tially pro­duced the ob­jects her­self—a range of can­dles, cush­ions and other life­style items printed with her work—but then found Pro­duc­tion Q was be­ing mis­taken for a life­style brand. “Peo­ple started to say: ‘Oh, I love your can­dles. When’s the next col­lec­tion com­ing out?’ Mak­ing prod­ucts was never what I wanted to do. Now we fo­cus on cre­at­ing an im­age that we can sell to clients, who can then print it on their own prod­ucts.” Lane Craw­ford, for ex­am­ple, re­cently com­mis­sioned Quee­nie to cre­ate an im­age to be printed on a rug for its stores, and a lim­ited edi­tion Roger Vivier handbag bear­ing one of her prints was launched ear­lier this year.

We chose to shoot Quee­nie in front of a se­lec­tion of prints from her first col­lec­tion, The Sakura Se­ries. She is now work­ing on her se­cond, The For­est Se­ries, in­spired by the hours she spent in cap­tiv­ity. “We tend to mea­sure time by ac­tiv­i­ties we are do­ing or how hungry we are, but I didn’t have those mark­ers in the for­est. I was re­liant on ob­serv­ing the sun­light and how it shines through the trees. The For­est Se­ries is all about that ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s a way of re­leas­ing my en­ergy into the work.”

The first time Quee­nie went for a walk in a for­est af­ter her or­deal, her par­ents ac­com­pa­nied her, but she has been fine go­ing for walks alone since then. “For me, go­ing back into a for­est to take the pic­tures was al­most like a med­i­ta­tion. It’s about con­trol­ling your mind. It helped re­lease what­ever I’m scared of.” Hav­ing bravely shone a light into the dark­ness in her mind, she hopes her com­ing mem­oir will in­spire oth­ers to do the same. “It’s all about pos­i­tive en­ergy and pos­i­tive think­ing.”

So with the dark­ness dis­pelled, what does the fu­ture hold for Quee­nie’s art and busi­ness? “I’m mo­ti­vated to make ev­ery­day ob­jects not only more beau­ti­ful but more mean­ing­ful. I want to be known for cre­at­ing some­thing that re­ally helps peo­ple shape their lives—that’s the ul­ti­mate goal. Cre­ativ­ity gives me a pur­pose in life, a sense that I am work­ing to­wards a big­ger goal. It helps me move for­ward.”

“FOR ME GO­ING BACK INTO A FOR­EST TO TAKE THE PIC­TURES WAS AL­MOST LIKE A MED­I­TA­TION. IT’S ABOUT CON­TROL­LING YOUR MIND”

fiery and fearless Dress by Valentino; Folie des Prés ear­rings and Friv­ole ring, both by Van Cleef & Ar­pels

vim and val­our Dress by Loewe; Cos­mos ear­ring, Per­lée sig­na­ture and pearls of gold bracelets, all by Van Cleef & Ar­pels

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