(Photo provided to China Daily)
Jewelry designer Wallace Chan brings storytelling, heritage and a surprisingly diminutive teacher to his Christie's exhibition.
Wallace Chan is an acclaimed Hong Kong-based jeweler who has attained international success through his innovation in techniques and materials. Born in Fujian province, Chan found his artistic calling early on, fashioning flowers out of plastic at age eight. At 16, he began an apprenticeship with a sculptor in a traditional workshop for nine months. Over the next 40 years (and counting), Chan has experimented with a wide spectrum of techniques and materials to realize his artistic vision. In the process, he invented a jadeite thinning and luminosity-enhancing technology, and introduced the "Wallace cut" of carving designs within a gemstone. Most recently, he has patented Wallace Chan porcelain, a product said to be unbreakable and five times stronger than steel. CDLP met up with him in his Stanley Street studio on the eve of his exhibition with auction house Christie's, Shapeshifter: The Multiverse of Wallace Chan.
You've just created and patented a new type of porcelain. What distinguishes it?
History is always evolving. Porcelain today, compared with 50 years ago, or even 500 or 5,000, is very different. People have been innovating throughout history with porcelain. I developed porcelain with the hope that it could be the backbone of my jewelry - I made it stronger, sturdier and gave it a more unique kind of luster, so it's very scratch-resistant as well. Even 50 years from now, you can test it. People develop different kinds of materials to fulfill their needs - porcelain for watches, porcelain for cups and even porcelain on different machines now.
My experience with porcelain began when I was five years old and broke a spoon; my wish was to make an unbreakable porcelain. So that comes from my childhood memories. I've been developing a lot of different technologies and innovations; a lot of them were associated with porcelain, like titanium, as well.