Monday, December 19, 2011

Hanging out in Hong Kong

Hello again,

I've recently come back from a three-week-and-a-bit holiday around the world. Haha, no not really, just to  London, Dubai, Hong Kong, Cebu and Manila. Since I've been doing a university course about the politics of globalization for the past three years - a visit to internationalizing cities (the so-called hubs of fast cash, free wheelers and dealers and the arts) was enlightening as much as it was a reprieve from the mundane.

Whilst in Hong Kong, I made it my goal to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was there I was found an exhibit dedicated to the ancient Chinese art of tian-tsui (点翠, or  “dotting with kingfishers”). The practice hasn’t received as much coverage here in the West as blue and white porcelain or the machine manufactured cloisonné jars of the latter 80s. It refers to a process whereby tiny kingfisher feathers are painstakingly cut and glued onto gilt silver.

At first I wasn’t sure where the feathers were (even with my prescription glasses on). I was looking for tell-tale feather spines sticking out from the jewellery at odd angles. That was until I realized that the iridescent ultramarine blue of the hair ornament above was the actual feather inlay! It was so delicate that I assumed the hair pieces were made with precious stones. What impressed me most was how the colour of the feathers had not faded, even after hundreds of years.

A more indepth history of the technique can be found here
There was however a price for such beauty. Many species of kingfisher were slaughtered for the production of these ornaments – probably not the most humane or even sustainable method of artisanal craft. It has given me some ideas though about contemporary practices of inlaying, using resin and found objects to create bright jewellery. 

I'll be documenting more about my travel experiences and how they've given me new concepts to play around with in the next couple of posts.


- The Dentist

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