It’s going to be a Wunderkammer



‘I look forward to showing you the new place. We open in September’ said goldsmith Kim Buck when I interviewed him for HÅNDVÆRK bookazine no. 5.
He shares the Wunderkammer, or chamber of curiosities, with his girlfriend, goldsmith Hongxia Wang, who for the past five years has had a workspace in the studio that he has occupied for decades in Rådhusstræde in central Copenhagen.
Wunderkammer! A shared shop in Vesterbrogade 183, Frederiksberg. New joint name on the door, Wang & Buck, with room for Wang’s jewellery and Buck’s jewellery as well as the tiny ‘&’, all the extra elements, as Kim explained in the interview.

When I stopped by last week, it was & curios; in the future it may also be & special exhibitions of works by other goldsmiths. Thus, the exhibition ‘From Collect’ opens on 28 October, curated by the South Korean jewellery artist and professor at Seoul National University Bogki Min. The exhibition showcases the work of three Danish and seven Korean jewellery artists.

When I met Kim for an interview a few months ago, I also met Hongxia and saw her jewellery, which I have been looking forward to taking a closer look at. It is feminine, powerful, poetic and of another world. Full of references to nature and driven by a passion for experimentation.
We meet in the back room over a cup of coffee and chat about this and that: everyday life as a woman, children, her background, initially in China and then in Denmark, and how profoundly we are shaped by our cultural references and the system we were raised to be part of.

When she speaks about her life and work, her story moves, as it does for most people, between possibilities and challenges that were so big they might almost make a person give up.
Every time she gets to one of these challenges in her story, she says, ‘But it’s in my mindset to finish what I’ve begun,’ or ‘I didn’t think I could do that, but it turned out I was good at it.’
For example, she says ‘I didn’t think I could do that,’ about her job from 2007 to 2012 as a teacher at China’s most prestigious design school.
Hongxia’s studio in Copenhagen was well-established when her then husband was offered the opportunity of being stationed in Beijing, where Hongxia’s family lives. ‘Naturally, it was lovely to “come home” for a while, but it was also tough to walk away from what I had built in Denmark,’ she says.

When she was offered a position in the newly established Department of Contemporary Jewellery at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), she had no teaching experience. On the other hand, the school had no practical experience with the goldsmith craft. ‘I used my material from the Polytechnic Institute when I established the workshop, and I discovered that I was good at teaching. That was a huge boost to my confidence; I thought I was useless, and suddenly, I was the expert!’ she says with a smile.

‘Once back in Copenhagen, I enrolled in a three-year graduate programme at the now defunct Institute for Precious Metals. It was great for me to be challenged at an artistic level, not only in conventional goldsmithing materials but also by looking at other art forms. While I was finishing my degree, I saw my former students moving into positions as professors in new design universities around China.’

She also touches on the specifics of her work:
‘I challenge the properties of materials and experiment with technical possibilities, and I feel strong and free. Strong, because I am capable of reflecting and analysing, based on both theory and practice. And free, because I have the artistic freedom to express myself through the medium of jewellery and because I don’t refer to a Chinese or a Danish tradition but maintain an international outlook and my own direction.’

After coffee, I take photographs.

While I do that, Hongxia hammers out a delicate but very wide silver ring, part of a small collection of double rings, she explains. Double in the sense that it consists of a narrow inner ring that fits the finger, while the outer, wider ring is slightly bigger. That makes the ring more comfortable to wear, because of the gap between the wider ring and the finger, she explains, as my eye flirts with a series of delicate white rings that look as if they had been pulled up from the depths of the sea.



Hongxia Wang
Born and raised in China, moved to Copenhagen in 1994
Trained as a fashion designer in Beijing, China
Trained as a goldsmith in Denmark, 1998–2001
Institute for Precious Metals in Copenhagen, 2013–2016
Independent jewellery artist with her own studio and gallery in Denmark, 2004–2007
Independent jewellery designer in Beijing, 2007–2012
Teacher at the Institute for Jewellery, Central Academy of Fine Art (CAFA) in Beijing, 2007–2012



PÅ DANSK


”Jeg glæder mig til at vise dig vores nye sted. Vi åbner til september”. Sådan sagde guldsmed Kim Buck, da jeg interviewede ham til HÅNDVÆRK bookazine no. 5.
Det omtalte wunderkammer deler han med kæresten guldsmed Hongxia Wang (hun har de seneste fem år haft sin faste plads på det værksted, han har haft i en menneskealder i Rådhusstræde i København K).

Wunderkammer! Vi taler fælles butikslokale på Vesterbrogade 183, på Frederiksberg. Nyt fælles navn på døren: Wang & Buck med plads til Wangs smykker og til Bucks smykker, foruden &et, det lille ekstra, forklarede Kim den gang.

Da jeg var forbi i sidste uge, var det & kuriosa, i fremtiden kan det meget vel også være & særudstilling af andre guldsmedes arbejder, således åbner udstillingen ”From Collect” d 28 oktober. Udstillingen er kurateret af den sydkoreanske smykkekunstner og Professor ved Seoul National University, Bogki Min. Udstillingen viser tre danske og syv koreanske smykkekunstnere.

Da jeg mødte Kim til interview for nogle måneder siden, mødte jeg også Hongxia, og jeg så hendes smykker, som jeg har glædet mig til at se nærmere på. Smykkerne er feminine, kraftfulde, poetiske og fra en anden verden. Fyldt med naturreferencer, og båret af stor lyst til at eksperimentere.

Vi mødes i baglokalet, drikker kaffe og taler om løst og fast, om kvindeliv og børn og om Hongxias baggrund, først i Kina siden i Danmark, og om hvor meget vi er præget af vores kulturelle referencer og af det system vi er opdraget til at tage del af.
Når hun fortæller om sit liv og sit arbejdsliv, er det, som det gør sig gældende for de fleste mennesker, en fortælling som veksler mellem muligheder og udfordringer så svære, at man kunne vælge at give op.
Hver gang hun når til sådan en udfordring i fortællingen, så siger hun: ”Men det ligger i min mentalitet at gøre det færdigt, jeg har påbegyndt”, eller: ”jeg troede ikke at jeg kunne, men det viste sig, at jeg var god til det”.

”Jeg troede ikke jeg kunne,” siger hun fx om sit job fra 2007-2012 som underviser på Kinas mest prestigefyldte designskole.
Hongxias guldsmedeværksted i København var veletableret, da hendes daværende mand fik mulighed for en udstationering i Beijing, hvor Hongxias familie bor. ”Det var naturligvis dejligt at ”komme hjem” for en periode, men også ærgerligt at forlade det jeg havde bygget op i Danmark”, fortæller hun.
Da hun blev tilbudt jobbet på den nyetablerede afdeling for ”contemporary jewellery” på institut for smykker, Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), havde hun ingen undervisningserfaring. På skolen havde de derimod ingen praktisk erfaring med guldsmedefaget. ”jeg tog udgangspunkt i mit materiale fra teknisk skole, da jeg byggede værkstedet op, og det viste sig at jeg var god til at undervise. Det gav enormt meget selvtillid, jeg troede ikke at jeg kunne noget, og pludselig var det mig som vidste det hele”, smiler hun.

”Min vej tilbage i København gik over en treårig overbygningsuddannelse på det nu lukkede Institut for Ædelmetal. Jeg havde stor glæde af at blive udfordret kunstnerisk, ikke kun i de velkendte guldsmedematerialer, men også ved at se på andre kunstarter. Samtidig med at jeg færdiggjorde min overbygningsuddannelse, kunne jeg følge mine tidligere studerende som så småt var blevet professorer ved nye designuniversiteter rundt omkring i Kina”.

Hun fortæller videre om sit arbejde: ”Jeg udfordrer materialernes egenskaber og afsøger tekniske muligheder, og jeg føler jeg mig stærk og fri. Stærk, fordi jeg har forudsætningerne for at kunne reflektere og analysere med afsæt i både teori og praktik. Kunstnerisk fri til at udtrykke mig med smykkerne som medie. Fri, også fordi jeg hverken referer til den kinesiske eller den danske tradition, men har internationalt udsyn og min egen retning”.

Efter kaffen fotograferer jeg.

Mens jeg fotograferer, hamrer Hongxia på en spinkel men meget bred sølvring en del af en lille kollektion af dobbelt-ringe, forklarer hun. Dobbelt ring, sådan at forstå, at den består af en smal indre ring, som passer på fingeren, mens den ydre brede ring er en anelse større. Det giver en større bekvemmelighed idet man får luft mellem den brede ring og fingeren, forklarer hun, mens mit øje flirter med en serie spinke hvide ringe som ser ud som om de er hentet op fra havets dyb.