Fragile Beauty

I look for something that will make me more beautiful

Continent Dickson Yewn

Human thinking can be verbal and visual image. The hieroglyphic writing based on images makes it possible to think thousands of times faster engaging the subconscious mind. Dickson Yewn, our columnist, philosopher, jewelry artist & director free of marketing networks, travels through time to bring the culture of an ancient civilization to modern man by means of his bijous now recognized world-wide.

My parents had to work hard to bring up three children. I still remember an accident from my childhood flashing across my mind just like a short film. I am 8 years old. My whole family, Granddad, Granny, Sis, Bro and I go to a banquet. Celebration over, we go out and I see a motor-bike. While I’m eyeing that marvel of engineering my folks catch a taxi and go away leaving me behind. So great was my shock that even years later I cannot help recalling that day every now and again. Well, I turned to a policeman. He took me to a police station. There I stayed the next eight hours. It’s not a very funny story. I was really upset. So was my Mom to whom I was so much attached. Anyhow, in the end all was well as all ended well.

Mama is a very important person in my life. I’m sure she was the reason why making jewelry became my lifetime project. This is what underlied my choice. Mom was born in Hong Kong. During WWII the city was almost totally destroyed. Having lost everything they had, my grandparents had to move to China where they had a plot of land. Once they found themselves behind the Iron Curtain, they could not leave whenever they wished, just like it was in the USSR. They got stuck in China for the next ten years. At that time Mom couldn’t even go to school. Then they managed to return to Hong Kong. My outstanding Mom was very good at handicraft. We spent a lot of time together so I often watched her create wonderful things.

In 1962 Father launched a jewelry boutique. In my young years I learnt a lot from him. Among other things, he educated me about the famous Swiss watches. With Mom’s help Dad did rather well. Soon Mom started her own business. Those were the days! Back then Swiss watches cost cheaply in Hong Kong so we often saw celebrities on our premises, Michael Jackson among them. One day I saw him buying a watch in my Dad’s shop. I was 12 or so at the time. “Thriller,” one of Michael’s most famous albums, had just been released.

Anyway, my first dream was to become a famous film director. So I spent eight years working at a film studio. I took up jewelry-making only at the age of 30. Now, trying to single out my main activity, I realize that films, painting and jewelry have always been equally important for me. They are just means of story-telling or, to be more exact, tools for translating the language of beauty into a tongue lying within the limits of human comprehension. No doubt, films, with their visual images and plots depicting events directly, suit the purpose the best. In the past making films single-handedly was a mission impossible. Nowadays, with such Hi-Tech tools as iPhones, superb digital cameras, sound equipment and special editing software easily available, one can do without a film studio. In the 1980s film-making was primarily a male-manned industry, good-looking actresses being the only exception to the rule. When a little boy, I often accompanied Mom on her shopping sprees and at meetings or meals with her female friends and colleagues. Among them were very attractive Taiwanese actresses married to well-to-do gentlemen from Hong Kong. So I was well-accustomed to a stunningly beautiful feminine society.

In the beginning, Mom already working as a jeweler, I didn’t really intend to become one. I wanted to be individual, independent and have everything my own way. The 1990s were a period of economic growth in China. I was really fond of ancient Chinese culture, just like in Russia, practically lost by that time. It was then that I decided to revive the interrupted tradition by means of mo-dern skillful jewelry. It is just like making a long full-screen documentary and with the help of my bijous bringing back to life the great culture of the olden days.

When I hear that square-cut rings are very unusual, I feel like having a dream of the 15th century priest and scientist arguing whether the earth is flat or round. Nowadays, the shape of our planet is common knowledge. Nevertheless, when it comes to discussing the shape of female fingers, I feel I am the only one awake in the whole world. Have a good look and you will see they are not round at all! They are more like my square-cut rings with smoothened facets and angles. Ladies, your men have been deceiving you for seven thousand years! Human fingers are not round so square-cut rings are more comfortable to wear.

There is more than just a physiological aspect here. The aesthetics is also very important. If you look at the ancient Chinese architecture you will see some curved lines all right but rectangular shapes prevail. The art déco style did not appear in the West. It originated in China, rectangular decorative elements in particular, India and Egypt. Western tourists come to China and exclaim, “Oh, look! The Chinese borrowed art déco!“ Wrong! It’s just the other way round. It is art déco that borrowed Chinese decorative art features.

The idea of fragile beauty also originated in China. For a thousand years Chinese women had to walk with their feet tied to shape and keep them small and exquisite. They were not allowed to leave the household premises but could move only around their spacious house and garden. This practice continued until 1996.

Looking at the present-day cultural landscape of Hong Kong and China we can’t but notice that women or their husbands buy jewelry not as a decoration to wear. In actual fact, it’s a liquid investment to be kept in a safe and worn only on special occasions like important visits, receptions or banquets, just to prove the owner’s solvency. It’s totally different from the Western habit of wearing jewelry practically every day. Some of my works, such as those made of wood, are too fragile for regular wear. I make them for visual enjoyment only.

By the way, while creating a bijou, I never think about a woman who could wear it. Every single object, even a spoon lying on the table, exists in a world of its own. Making a flatware set, I never think of its future user needing it to have meals. I put my heart into my creations so that they have a life of their own to live in their own universe. If a jeweler thinks of a particular person while making something, this object can belong to no one else.

All elements of Chinese spiritual culture i. e. Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism are to be found in the jewelry films I create. For the last six years I have been exhibiting my works in the modern art flow trying to weave a many-century thread connecting the outside with the inside both in reality and in man. Choosing a bijou to make, I look for something that will make me more beautiful. While, choosing an object of art, I keep on going along the path of self-conception, thus, telling the world something new about myself. I must travel through space and time until I find something totally different from everything else I have ever encountered before. Something my whole inner self will resonate with.