The first time I saw a Wallis Hong creation, I was deeply moved: a delicate and well-depicted butterfly embodied the true essence of an enchanted world.
This butterfly, much more than a simple brooch, opened the doors of my imagination, offering me a profound gaze on an ancestral world. It took Wallis Hong three years to realize his two pieces of art, which have been aptly named Eternal Butterfly I and Eternal Butterfly II. They draw their inspiration from China-born Wallis’s childhood, spent in a rural idyllic village in the Wansong area with his mother, a musician and art collector who infused in him his love for beauty and art. These audacious yet mysterious works of art reflect the amazement of a child chasing butterflies in the field close to his home until, unexpectedly, he happens to see an impressive specimen with a wonderful blue-yellow gradient on its golden-streaked wings.
Eternal Butterfly I: Brown fancy rose-cut Diamonds, round-cut White Diamonds, colored Sapphires, Tsavorites, Pearl in the back, Titanium
Eternal Butterfly II: Santa Maria Aquamarine, colored Sapphires, White Diamonds, Tsavorites, Titanium, Pearl
Wansong inspired him with its landscapes, fields, flora, fauna and even insects. This microcosm is deeply enclosed in his heart, perhaps because the field where he used to run freely is now a highway. These memories and old reminiscences flood back with a wave of nostalgia, but the only way that Wallis can bring them to life is through his dreams and creations. Art is thus the tool that allows this talented artist to immortalize these moments of beauty that turned his childhood into something magical. A kaleidoscope of shapes and colors that cannot be forgotten and which, in their transience, touched a chord with Wallis, ultimately inspiring him to give life to such evocative works of art.
“Memories have always seemed more beautiful because you can’t touch them — every time I create a new butterfly, I feel closer to the one from my memories” affirms the artist. The central theme of his poetics is the observation of the nature, with its ancestral rhythms and motifs. The creation of these pieces of art takes its cue from the observation of butterflies, immortalizing the moment when the 6-years-old Wallis was struck by the sudden appearance of a butterfly at the entrance of a waterfall cave. Through art, memories become eternal and therefore immortal, projected into a timeless dimension. Eternal, but also pure and incorporeal, is what the “Ethereal Butterfly” brooch depicts; colored sapphires, white diamonds and pink tourmaline all blend together in the manner so typical of traditional Chinese carving techniques.
Ethereal Butterfly: colored Sapphires, pink Tourmaline, White Diamonds, Titanium, Platinum
A jewelry that projects us into an oneiric dimension, influenced firstly by dreams but also by archaic symbolism, acquired by Wallis thanks to his Buddhist grandfather. From the age of six, he used to attend the temple built by his ancestor near the village of Cai Shan, not far from Wansong, which with its statues and decorations, has always remained etched in his mind. The radial motifs, frequently used in sacred rights in Buddhism and in other cultures, are representations of the universe and a collection point for universal forces. Round shapes which are often found repeated in nature, from coral reefs to plants to shells, are a leitmotiv in Wallis Hong’s ethos, expressed in a reminiscent series of marine earrings. During a trip to the Spanish islands of Ibiza and Formentera, he observed the natural form of shells on the beaches and the pristine underwater ecosystem with its rich diversity of flora and fauna. The shades of blue, here given by the sapphires combined with white diamonds, titanium, platinum and tsavorite, recall the atmosphere of the depths of the abyss.
Paradise Earrings: White Diamonds, colored Sapphires, Titanium, Platinum
Siren earrings: White Diamonds, colored Sapphires, Titanium, Platinum
Thorn shells earrings: colored Sapphires, White Diamonds, Tsavorite, Titanium, Platinum
The love for the marine world is even more noticeable in an exclusive new series consisting of three watches. These amazing watches were created by Wallis along with his dear friend Jinhuan, a master of the art of micro-engraving. A microcosm encompassing fish, algae and other creatures of the underwater world is skillfully represented on the colorful dials. The sensibility of the two artists invites people to rediscover the pristine beauty of the ocean, which we all should take greater care of. The most part of the proceeds will be donated to the Ocean Foundation, whose mission is reversing the trend of destruction of ocean environments around the world.
The three-dimensional engraving is carried out directly onto a piece of titanium metal with a dial diameter of 36mm and a thickness of 2.5mm under a magnifying glass of x20 times. The total watch weight is only 65 grams and its thickness is 10mm. Up to now, there is no such tool on the market that can engrave such tiny objects. Thus, the sheer mastery and accuracy of this work is astonishing. Since the structure is too tiny, the carving knives are as thin as needles in the tail of a bee. In addition to this, the most difficult part of the process is the metal polishing; if there is even the smallest error, no welding can be done. If an error is made, you can only start again. At present, this technology is 5-10 years ahead due to the difficulty of engraving, as well as more technical problems, such as the hardness of titanium and the separation of colors. As a result of this level of complexity, it took three years to complete these watches. All details are perfectly rendered in three dimensions under the x 20 magnifying glass. The strap is ethically sourced from handcrafted American alligator leather.
The below excerpt of a beautiful poem entitled “To a Butterfly”, written by William Wordsworth, reminds me of Wallis’s poetics.
“Stay near me–do not take thy flight!
A little longer stay in sight!
Much converse do I find in thee,
Historian of my infancy!
Float near me; do not yet depart!
Dead times revive in thee.”
This talented art jeweler is only 27 years old, but he has already attracted wide attention from the jewelry community. Wallis was invited by Nadège Totah to exhibit in the Emerging Talent Section of November 2022’s edition of Gemgenève Show where he reported a great success with his sculpture jewels and his miniature watch dials. He was also invited to cooperate with Sotheby’s Hong Kong.
Wallis Hong lives in Madrid where he also studied at the Academy of Art
There is no better way to end this article than with the words of Wallis himself: “Nothing lasts forever, but we have to endeavor to make it endure as long as we can.”
Article edit by Laura Astrologo Porché
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