Interview with May Deng, President of Blanc Auction Xiamen

A week ago, the Value team flew to Xiamen to cover the fall sales of Blanc Auction Xiamen, a rising auction house founded in China two years ago. Its recent fall sales recorded outstanding sale totals of over RMB100m. The Value interviewed May Deng, President of Blanc Auction Xiamen.

May Deng, President of Blanc Auction Xiamen

M: The Xiamen Free Trade Zone was set up in 2014 and our company was founded there in September the following year. The bonded area inside or outside the city has been of high importance to the Xiamen government as they hope it bears fruits in the cultural field. Xiamen is very close to Taiwan and Hong Kong. It only takes about an hour with flights. We aim to bring a positive mode for auctions to Taiwan and Hong Kong as well as a positive mode for developing the cultural industry. Not to mention that Xiamen is a very beautiful city.

Q: How did you start your career in this industry?

M: About 18 or 19 years ago, I got into this industry by chance. I was completely amazed by it. At the beginning, I liked the works made in the imperial kilns from the Qing dynasty, especially from the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong periods. As these works had made me started thinking about the thoughts and ideas of those emperors behind each piece of ceramics from the imperial kilns.

Q:  Which is your favourite piece from the imperial kilns?

M: I like the Twelve Month Cups made from the late Kangxi period. A senior had told me that China had a very large territory at that time. The Emperor Kangxi was very grateful for what he had achieved and he attributed his success to the god. Therefore He made the Twelve Month Cups as the offering.

"Peach" Month Cup, one of the Twelve Month Cups

M (continue): Looking at the works from the imperial kilns, I have learnt more about the philosophies of different emperors and how I can apply them to my business management. 

Q: Why did you name the company “Blanc”?

M: I have been interested in ceramics. “Blanc” means white. There is a type of white Chinese porcelain at Dehua in the Fujian province, which has been known as “Blanc de Chine” (White from China). So I decided to name the company “Blanc”.

Q: Why does the auction also offer contemporary works of art, alongside with traditional ones?

M: We hope it can serve as an inclusive platform with diversity to welcome different people to the art world. We have thought of many ideas. We believe offering affordable contemporary art can be a good starting point to attract different clients and show them the beauty of art.

Q: Do you find it challenging to be a female leader in this industry?

M: To be honest, it is both challenging and enjoyable to me. This industry is fascinating but it is not easy for females in certain areas which are more favourable to males, such as sourcing, negotiating or settling disagreements. But I am passionate about art so I enjoy what I do every day. I have learnt a lot from discussing with mentors or seniors even if they hold different points of view.

The Review with William Chak on Yangcai Coral-ground ‘Floral’ Bowl

M (continue): For example, we have invited a revered master, William Chak, to share his insight on this pair of “Falangcai” bowls from Yongzheng period. It is a beneficial learning experience to me. I gained knowledge of “glass white” and the introduction of “Falangcai” etc. My job has given me the pleasure of exchanging ideas with others.