Dickson Yewn: Promoting Chinese heritage for a noble cause

By Nikita Mishra
Feb 17, 2022

Renowned Chinese jeweler Dickson Yewn and auction house Sotheby’s, have collaborated to showcase a strong exhibit of rare and unique classics with the aim of promoting Chinese heritage and fine arts. Coming together to raise funds for the Needle and Thread Charitable Foundation – a project which promotes the unique handicrafts of women in remote areas of China to a wider audience.

Promoting his works and enlightening the younger generation to their intangible heritage and cultural awareness is integral to Yewn’s artistic purpose. The focus of this exhibit includes a historic first – a Chinese tunic suit with the most intricate and beautiful embroidery from the southeast region of Guizhou.

Gafencu caught up with global artist Dickson Yewn to dig deeper into his artistic journey with this collaboration…

Artist Dickson Yewn

You’ve got global recognition through your work in fine arts and jewellery – what inspired you to support the Needle and Thread charity? 
This charity is really close to my heart – they preserve the work of Chinese ethnic minorities. Most of these indigenous tribes are already fast disappearing and alongside their unique craftsmanship. Today, few young people want to get in the trade or pick up these ethnic skills. It’s a dying art and if I can do anything to honour the heritage, I will stitch together my purpose and function as an artist. Since 2008 I have been collaborating with Sotheby’s and this time I have some rare, iconic works up for auction, the proceeds from sale will go for a noble cause. 

You’re showcasing some rare collectible items for the auction – throw light on these pieces.

‘The Golden Kaiser-i-hind Butterfly’ brooch (left), ‘Dream of the Red Mansion’ wearable bangle (right)

Alongside the traditional-crafted Chinese tunic, four of my works, two of which – namely, the ‘Golden Kaiser-i-hind Butterfly’ brooch and the 23rd episode of the ‘Dream of the Red Mansion’ – are the rare collectible items up for live auction.

On a personal level, I am obsessed with nature – animals, insects species – butterfly watching is a hobby. I created the ‘Golden Kaiser-i-hind Butterfly’ shoulder brooch, with the intention of highlighting the species of the butterfly. There are more than 20,000 known species of butterfly and even though fauna-inspired fluttering designs are common in high jewellery, not one artist cares to educate people about the species of these delicate creatures. Through my collection, I try to change that notion while paying homage to these highly desirable beauties.  

Were there any artistic challenges in designing the collection?

Infusion of wood with precious jewels was a challenge. Embracing unexpected materials always comes with its own obstacles and it’s more with wood because it is taboo in the jewellery industry. Wood jewellery is rare because it needs to be tended to for decades to resist chemical and temperature changes, it’s a labour-intensive process. The inlaid workmanship to incorporate rose-cut diamonds, circular-cut yellow sapphires and tsavorite garnets in 18 karat yellow gold without nails or glue is nothing short of extraordinary.

Bidding for artist and jeweller Dickson Yewn’s pieces for the Needle and Thread Charitable Foundation begins on 18th Feb/Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery.