Wallace Chan－beyond Jewelry
Wallace Chan－beyond Jewelry
Wallace Chan－beyond Jewelry
We first met Wallace Chan in July, in Paris. He told us about the making of his necklace “Secret Abyss”. On the table were 4 crystals of different shapes, he told us how he spent 4 years to choose the rutilated crystal. We were very interested in how he managed to fit the apparently much bigger “clouds” through the tiny hole in the center of the crystal.
For Wallace Chan: “Jewelry design is also a kind of magic. Because when we act, when we make something with the heart, everyone is a magician. Even the most impossible deeds - if our heart is truly steadfast - they surely can work out.”
OL (Taste of Life): How did you encounter gems and antiques?
Wallace: I once would go everywhere to look for good gems, but it was very hard to find. I would spend all my energy over every piece of work, very carefully, to make it the best possible. Slowly, people came to know that the craftsmanship of my creations have a soul, those who have good gems or big gems would come to find me, even very big auction houses. So I was thinking, if we want to do the best, to be the best craftsmen, good things will naturally come to us.
TOL: What do you think is the greatest value of your jewelry?
Wallace: The concept of value is relative. Some things may need agreat amount of money in exchange, but are still largely worth it. Some things we cannot tag them with a value, like the ring or the bracelet your mother gave you, no matter how much money anyone gives you, would you want to part with it? In this world, the value of feelings, memories and spirit are far greater than the value of money.
I hope that the message of a jewel becomes known to the greater public, reaching a power of educating future generations. I give great importance to communication and conjunction with the heart; it is the most precious.
TOL: The period of sculpting Buddha statues and towers, of being a monk, how did it affect your creations?
Wallace: When I was in the order, I gave up everything, I understood “abandonment”, and only by abandoning can we acquire, we can only achieve success through sacrifice. “The great way has no doors, only love is the path”, I’m cultivating an attitude of loving heaven, loving the earth, loving every living thing and loving people. I hope that when people look at my work, they would say, this is the work of someone with love in his heart and feelings in his bosom.
TOL: What do you think is the difference between creating jewellery with Eastern philosophy and Western jewelry? How must a jewel be for you to feel satisfied, what are your standards?
Wallace: The sea englobes many a mountain, it is great by its tolerance. In terms of craftsmanship and gold smithy, Western world has a really deep background and techniques, we have to learn from the Western world for this. But I would also use traditional Chinese techniques, like the use of mortise and tenon in Chinese architecture, I would transplant it into jewelry making. If I’m telling a story, then it would be the most simple of stories, the stories of mankind. Day after day, year after year, flowers bloom then fade, eras come and go, the past never comes back, when a jewel is made, it captures eternity.
Buddha said, the absence of normality is in fact normality. If you look closer, you would find that not only there is no regularity in the world, even the most common thing in the world can be completely inimitable and impossible to duplicate, like a leaf, a digital print, perfect without standard. For me, repeating is producing, not creating. I took the habit of never duplicating, every piece of jewellery work is the responsibility we have towards life. There are at most about 30 000 days in a man’s life, every second past, is a second gone, I have a habit of continuously adding pressure to myself within this ongoing pressure, trying to make the most of every minute and every second.
TOL: What is Elegance for you? How do you express it with jewelry?
Wallace: Elegance, is a character that transpires from inside to the outside. We usually use the word “graceful” to describe a lady’s moves and words, “elegant” to describe her inner beauty. It is the same for jewelry, from its shine, color and shape we can tell whether it is graceful, it includes the quality of the craftsmanship of the gem. From the jewel’s spirit, meaning, sentimental value and originality, we can tell whether it is elegant. But the quality of anything is based on the culture of the person, if it is high, then it would be high, if it’s shallow, then it would be shallow. Jewelry is the symbol of human civilisation, the record of history, a good jewel has a mission of transmission and education. Men give them deep meanings, the spirit of a man builds its character.
For example, for the making of “Now and Always” I used the Wallace cut I invented in 1987 as a theme. Because the figure of a goddess dates back to Ancient Greece, and throughout history, it is already a symbol of elegance in itself. I believe there were a lot of gods in human history, that were all real people, who used their super human determination and abilities to help men in their times. Their noble feelings became, in the end, supreme figures, that is not true only for Western deities.
I represented the figure of the goddess with the Wallace cut, this figure reflects into 4 more figures of the goddess, meaning that she commands the four seasons, representing the forever changes in humanity. This explains the feelings conveyed in “the Ancients can’t see today’s moon, but today’s moon used to shine upon the Ancients”. The cosmos is fluctuating, now and always, but the cosmos is also immutable.
A good jewel, has an unique design never seen before, it tells the past and the present of mankind, it represents the affinity between everything. This inner meaning, draws out a never ending resonance in people’s heart, a moving and joyous memory, which achieves elegance.
TOL: Is the necklace “Secret Abyss” the most spectacular work in the Biennial Show in Paris?
Wallace: This work is part of the magic of this Biennial. The other big surprise is the biggest gem in the world and in history, 167 carat, that will be exhibited. That is a once in a century chance to see such an antique.
TOL: What do you expect of your clients?
Wallace: In fact, I haven’t been really serious about finding clients. At my age, making efforts in the sole aim to sell something is really strenuous. In the last 40 years, even my living place is a couch-less 30 m² flat. Someone once asked me: “Don’t you have big money?” I said: “I do, but this money shouldn’t be used for myself.” Money has different uses for different people. Some people in Taiwan have much money, but they use that money to build schools and other charity works.
Wallace: The success of the next minute is based on the beginning of this minute.
Discussing with Wallace Chan is like reuniting with a long lost friend. At the end of the interview, he bade us goodbye with an Anjali Mudra.