Designer’s Monologue: Wallace Chan Talks About His Creations and Appreciation for Gemstones
Wallace Chan does not need an introduction. This year, from 11 to 20 March, he will be exhibiting his jewellery art creations, glass carvings and large-scaled titanium sculptures at the TEFAF art fair in Maastricht, Netherlands.
Just as in the case of the important antique show Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris, Wallace Chan is the first Chinese jeweller ever to be invited to exhibit at TEFAF. Through his work, visitors will be able to trace Chan’s creative path from the traditional to the contemporary and from the East to the West. To understand this extraordinary master’s work better, I’d like you to read Wallace Chan’s exclusive interview on katerinaperez.com, as he talks about his views on jewellery and gemstones.
I feel that there are a lot of similarities between architecture and jewellery because architecture houses our body and jewellery houses our spirit. Sometimes, when we wear jewellery we might feel that our spirit is inside the piece. When, as a jeweller, I look at gems, my mind and my soul penetrate it and I visualise crystallisations, reflections and colour that is inside it – and suddenly a gemstone itself becomes like a house to me. Each gem also possesses musical quality. It is like when you walk into an empty building, you can hear the ‘omm’ sound, so when I look inside a gemstone I can feel the rhythm and hear the elegant music. It is almost like being in Utopia.
When I see a stunning gemstone I get the same feeling as if I have just seen a beautiful lady, who I want to impress. I want to surround the stone with best craftsmanship, creativity and try to communicate with it. I treat it with care as if not to hurt its feelings, like a gentleman would behave with a lady. I handle each gemstone with tenderness, and hope that it will shine back to me in the best way it can.
When I deal with a gemstone, it feels like I live only for it and forget my own existence and the world around me: the only important thing is the material. It is much like falling in love when you get consumed by passion and crave to be close to the loved one. When you see them, you just don’t want to let go of the moment. And I never want to let go of my creation, as if it was my lover. Many people ask me where the inspiration or creativity comes from and the answer is just one word – love. If you experience this beautiful feeling towards people, gemstones, sky, earth and the whole universe then everything tends to inspires you. It’s very crucial to my creations.
When I create jewellery I focus on colours as they relate to varied feelings. For example, we love pink; it’s very young, energetic and sexy. But turn to red, especially pigeon blood red, and it feels very stable, mature and powerful. If I get the main stone of a very strong mature colour, I would surround it with gemstones of lighter, younger colours. This way, I almost create a family of different ages, which has a sense of harmony and union. If, instead, one uses only mature colours, jewels will not be lively enough, while by putting two young colours together they appear way too young.
For me, gemstones are living things like everything in this world. For example, Japanese scientists did an experiment with water, which is also alive. When they played lovely classical music, while water was turning into ice, the crystallisation was neat and beautiful, however, if the music was aggressive, the crystallisation of the ice became untidy and irregular. It exemplifies that everything is alive in this world, depending on how we communicate with it.
I want my jewellery creations to be like the pleasant music I like; something that you keep looking at again and again, and it stills soothe your soul. I personally like traditional Chinese and elegant music, as it has lasting influence on me. When I go home from a classical concert, the music stays on with me and soothes me through the night. Nowadays, there are a lot of modern melodies that only touch the surface, they shakes us up, but do not really stay in our hearts.
My mind is like a Chinese doctor’s cabinet. Have you ever visited a Chinese doctor? They have these big cabinets with a lot of drawers where they keep the herbs. So, instead of medicine, each drawer in my brain contains experience, memories and ideas. When I am faced with a difficulty at work, I take resolutions out of those drawers and combine them together, which becomes something like a soup made from a variety of herbs in Chinese medicine. This mixture becomes the ultimate solution and helps solve any problem.
When I finish a jewel, I often cry. It is a very emotional moment for me because for a long time I have been working on a piece, overcoming many craftsmanship obstacles. Of course, when it is finally ready, emotions burst out.
Sometimes, when collectors come to me to purchase something, I tell them not to buy anything from me yet. I ask them to look very carefully at the pieces, pay attention to the details and ask me questions. I also show collectors detailed close-up photos of my work so that they can have a clear idea about the artistic value of the piece. Usually, people would talk about the value of the gems, but I prefer to do it the other way round: forget about the gem’s value and study everything else first. After a client has observed my work, I let them go home and return a few weeks, a month or a year later if they still miss my piece. Only if they miss that piece, can they come back and start talking about collecting my work. KP
Photos are courtesy of Wallace Chan, portrait is taken by Katerina.