Contemporary Jewellery in Asia?

Annie Huang Art Jewellery has moved to Taiwan. Having been educated in the UK in contemporary jewellery design, I was very curious to find out what the jewellery scene is like in Asia. My first stop was in Shanghai where I visited a gallery called Two Cities. On their website it said that they showed contemporary jewellery but on arrival there was actually very little jewellery and instead had a ceramic exhibition going on. The ceramics were very good but not quite what I was looking for.

I then visited Hong Kong and took the opportunity to go to PMQ which is a creative hub for various designers and their products. Within the PMQ is a contemporary jewellery gallery and studio called Obellery. The front of this quaint little shop is the gallery section with cabinets and drawers of contemporary jewellery. Many of which were from previous alumni of the university I graduated from, The School of Jewellery in Birmingham. At the back of the shop is the studio section where hardworking students are sat by the benches making jewellery. They also hold lessons in metal-smithing that are taught by one of their founders Hugo Yeung. After a brief chat with the other owner, Belinda, she told me about how contemporary jewellery still has a difficult market even though it’s in a modern city like Hong Kong. Having a look at the jewellery on the top drawers, I did notice how they were mostly precious, minimalistic and featured a lot of pearls. Freshly out of university, the harsh reality of art, jewellery and making a living had begun to hit.

Since then, I’ve visited a lot of art exhibitions and galleries in Taipei. One thing noticeable is the choice of materials and processes that reflect the culture of Taiwan and Asia. The Taipei Fine Art Exhibition showed beautiful paintings that were modern to the eye but underpinned by deep traditions, one artist for example uses traditional Chinese ink to paint that resulted in colourful glitter-like reflections. Materials like ceramic is very popular and at the Cave Gallery in Taipei, I attended the solo exhibition of Chen Ming Kun. He practices the traditional form of Tenmoku glaze that enriches each piece with a variety of colours and patterns. Today I happened to speak to a Taiwanese contemporary jewellery designer and he told me how he uses calligraphy paper that is layered upon each other to form a 1cm thick brooch. The end piece is a circular, off-white coloured brooch with murky patterns that reflect Chinese calligraphy.

The best part of my move has been the fact that no matter where I go and who I meet, the jewellery circle is so small that everyone knows each other or knows someone that knows the other designer/artist. Thus, I’m able to meet so many like-minded people and listen to their stories on what the contemporary jewellery industry is like here. The next places on my list to see are the contemporary jewellery galleries in Taipei. There is only 2 but I’m anxious to hear the galleries views on contemporary jewellery in Asia.

‘The Grave of Honor’ by Zheng Lu at MOCA Taipei