Winner of JOYA 2017 Award: Wanshu Li interviewed by Klimt02

Interview  /  Artists   CarolinDenter   YuxiSun
Published: 19.11.2017
Wanshu Li, photographed by JOYA Barcelona. Wanshu Li, photographed by JOYA Barcelona.
Yuxi Sun, Carolin Denter
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Exhibition view of Joya 2017.
Exhibition view of Joya 2017

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The biggest advantage of the award is that it helps me to reach a wider range of audience in the jewellery field and it will bring me more opportunities for my future career.

“Go with the Glow” is the illuminating jewellery series of Wanshu-Li, which is focused on exploring a multisensory experience. Making tactile wearable pieces, which involve vision, sound, and touch, she draws her inspiration from marine animals, especially the jellyfish caught her attention. Soft, light, and glowing with amazing colours, her pieces invite the viewer to touch and play. To transform her ideas into art, she was experimenting with acrylic, moving beads, UV reactive nylon wire, UV light and fluorescent paints. The results are visually pleasant and playful pieces with an amazing fluorescent effect, provided trough UV-light.

Congratulations on winning the JOYA Award 2017. How does it feel?
I am really glad and excited to be given the JOYA Award this year. As a recent jewellery graduate, I think it is the biggest encouragement for me since I started my career as a jewellery designer and maker. I would continue working harder and keep sharing my passion for jewellery creations with more people.

When did you first hear about the JOYA event and how came the decision to apply for JOYA 2017 in Barcelona?
The first time I knew JOYA was in the year of 2016 during my Artist-in-Residence programme at Edinburgh College of Art. I heard it from a Spanish exchange student who told me that JOYA Barcelona Art Jewellery Fair is an amazing contemporary jewellery event. Since then, I started to follow JOYA’s social media and its different activities’ posts. I was so impressed by all the beautiful works that had exhibited at JOYA. So I started to prepare my application for JOYA 2017. I believed that it would be a fantastic experience to showcase my works overseas if I could get this opportunity.

What do you think is the biggest advantage you receive from winning this Award?
I think the biggest advantage since I awarded by JOYA is that it helps me to reach a wider range of audience in jewellery field and it also will continuously influence and bring me more opportunities for my future career.

Wanshu Li, Brooch: Go with the Glow, 2017, Acrylic, sterling silver, glass beads, nylon wire. 7.2 x 6.7 x 4.5 cm. Photo by: Shannon Tofts.

Were there any other jewellery Artist which caught your attention, and why?
Well, it’s really a difficult question to answer. It was such a great honour for me to meet and communicate with so many talented and creative artists.  Every artist used his or her unique languages to express different understandings towards contemporary jewellery. Listening to the stories behind the works was the most enjoyable part for me in this event. This was the first time I participated in JOYA, so I was quite curious about all the jewellery artworks that presented both at Showroom JOYA and OFF JOYA exhibitions. During the jewellery week, I saw a wide variety of jewellery art’s forms with creative material innovations and techniques. So it is difficult to say which jewellery artist particularly caught my attention.

What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
The greatest interest in my design is to explore the interactivity and sensory aesthetic experiences in contemporary jewellery. I’ve been researching and experimenting about how jewellery communicates through light, colour, tactility and sound in new dimensions to extend the experiences of wearers and viewers. Therefore the main idea of my works is to create a multi-sensory wearing experiences in jewellery and bring physical and visual enjoyment for wearers and viewers.

Wanshu Li, Pendant: Go with the Glow, 2017. Acrylic, fluorescent plastic, fluorescent painting, sequins, glass beads, nylon wire. 8.5 x 8.5 x 4.5 cm. Photo by: Wanshu Li.

How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
The concept of this design started from my final year project during my postgraduate study at Edinburgh College of Art and it was also my graduation series collection. I first got the inspiration from capturing the moving moments in the natural world. For example, running dewdrops on the lotus leaf, free-swimming marine animals and moving traffic lights in the dark. Among these, I was strongly attracted by sea creatures such as jellyfish and corals which are soft, light, and glow with the characteristics of amazing colours. I was also fascinated by stage performances and laser light shows. All of these inspirations drove me to think about how to combine movements, lights and sensory experience together in my works. Since I graduated in 2016, I’ve been keeping developing this jewellery series.

What is the most unique aspect of your design?
I regarded my jewellery not only is a piece of moving art on the body, but also a live and multi-sensory experience for wearers and views. My practice is anchored in challenging the traditional way that people wear and interact with jewellery through exploring the relationship between materiality and sensory experiences using traditional and digital techniques to reveal new perspectives in jewellery.

What is the role of technology in this particular design?
Basically, the technology I’ve been using is a combination of modern technology and traditional jewellery making skills. For example, I use laser cutting to experiment with acrylic and it also effectively improves the making process in my work. Therefore, I think technology is an essential part of my design and I would like to involve more possible technologies such as 3D printing and lightening installation within my work in the near future.

What is the biggest challenge you face during your making process?
As a designer maker and jewellery, I think the greatest challenge for me is to fully and confidently develop my inspirations, thoughts, feelings into ideal art jewellery forms. Because sometimes it is difficult to bring an abstract idea into the reality. So consistently making test pieces and experimenting with various materials and techniques could be the best way for me to develop the concept in my work. I really appreciated it that I met such a wonderful group of teachers during my study at Edinburgh College of Art and they encouraged me to be brave when facing challenges and do not be afraid of taking risks.

Wanshu Li, Brooch: Go with the Glow, 2017, Acrylic, sterling silver, sequins, glass beads, nylon wire. 7.2 x 6.7 x 4.5 cm. Photo by: Wanshu Li.

Why are you interested in Art-Jewellery?
I am fascinated by Art Jewellery is because I enjoy the process of exploring and experimenting new making methods, material possibilities and various art forms in this field. Another reason that I am interested in Art jewellery is it not only can represent artists’ personal emotions and their unique understandings of jewellery, at the same time, it can also build a variety of interactive connections with it's with wearers and viewers.

What are you hoping to do next?
In a short term, I will continue to develop my current jewellery series and participate in different jewellery exhibitions to promote my work. In the future, I am looking forward to making some interdisciplinary projects and collaborating with fashion designers or light designers.

About the Interviewee

Wanshu Li is originally from the city of Harbin in northeast China. She studied Jewellery and Silversmithing at the Beijing University of Technology, then achieved her master degree in 2016 at the Edinburgh College of Art. After finishing her study, she spent a year as an artist in residence in the jewellery department of ECA. Wanshu recently is working on her jewellery series “Go with the Glow” which is focused on exploring the multi-sensory experience and making tactile luminous wearable pieces.

About the author

Yuxi Sun completed her Bachelor of Arts in Jewellery design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2015. She is undertaking her Master of Fine arts in Gemstone and Jewellery at University of Applied Science Trier, Campus Idar-Oberstein till 2018. Meanwhile, she is making an internship at Klimt02 in 2017.

Carolin Denter completed her training as Goldsmith at Master School for Craftsmen in Kaiserslautern in 2013. In 2015 she made an Internship at Klimt02, where she is working since 2016 as Content Manager. In 2017 she graduated with Bachelor of Fine Arts in Gemstone and Jewellery at University of Applied Science Trier, Campus Idar-Oberstein. After her graduation, she started working part-time as Marketing and Design management Assistance at Campus Idar-Oberstein in the Gemstone and Jewellery Departement.