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Art Vancouver is thrilled to be welcoming Dickson Yewn as a 2019 exhibitor. This will be the first time that jewelry is shown as an artistic medium at the fair. Yewn is no stranger to breaking art fair norms and is determined to demonstrate how jewelry is a valid artform worthy of international recognition and celebration.

Yewn’s career in jewelry started in 1995 with custom orders for friends. The transition from fine art and photography to jewelry-making was partly prompted by Yewn’s friendship circle being predominantly made up of women.

“Somehow I always have more female friends than guy friends, the proportion is about 99 to 1. I guess that when you are starting out as an artist, your friends are your biggest support” says Yewn.

But support is something that has not always come easy for Yewn. Many art fairs have been reticent about recognising jewelry as an art form and allowing Yewn to exhibit.

“It’s been a struggle but [we are] slowly gaining ground. Visitors’ responses were so positive that Art fair organizers have asked me to take a bigger booth in following years” says Yewn. “There’s only challenge from the conservative organisers because they don’t want to take a risk, even if they like my works. But fair visitors, especially the woman collectors and visitors, are all so thrilled and excited to have a more feminine voice that represents them at art fairs which are always dominated by males.”

Yewn’s creative practice seeks to celebrate national treasures made by imperial artisans by employing contemporary design techniques.

“Almost all of my works are directly or indirectly inspired by Chinese history and works of art throughout the entire written history. YEWN is basically an embodiment of Chinese culture through the medium of jewelry” says Yewn.

Chinese New Year has also been a source of inspiration for some of Yewn’s collections. Perhaps the most notable are his interpretations of traditional paper cut techniques often associated with new year celebrations.

“I do have a very special paper cut collection piece coming out just in time for Art Vancouver” says Yewn. “It’s a piece by Shulan Ku depicting her village in era when her feet were still bound.”

Although Art Vancouver will be Yewn’s first art fair in Canada he is no stranger to the city and spent time here as a high school student in the 1980s. It was Vancouver’s cultural diversity and the recent influx of migrants to the city that has attracted him back as an exhibitor.

As Yewn’s success and popularity continues to go from strength to strength it is clear that this year will be another busy one for the jeweler. So when asked what his hopes for Chinese New Year are he explains:

“My ambition is to work less and to spend more time with family. Otherwise I’m planning to do a high-end jewelry brand, working to create 18-25 pieces per year and plan for one big show per year only.”

Look out for Dickson Yewn at Art Vancouver 2019.

By Petra Giffard

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