Words and also symbols are one way in how we express ourselves. Clothes, art, music and jewellery are methods of expression. Many people like to make statements about themselves or to each other. This is why I believe language; words and symbols provide great ideas and inspiration for jewellery designs. Language and symbolism are deeply rooted to the culture of a country and its people.
I used language, words and symbolism to creatively develop and gather ideas. The gathering of language, words and symbols are intensified when a person travels. Travelling is certainly an eye opener. Many people pick up new ideas, which they may turn into businesses back home, they meet new friends or they gain new lifelong partners. A person who travels gets a brief insight into different cultures and customs. Those who perhaps live in another country are further immersed in the culture and customs. These people who make a foreign land a home may even learn the language. Learning even the basics of a language allows for an even greater insight and understanding of a culture and ultimately the people. Language and how it is spoken often expresses this culture and these customs.
I have lived in China for the past two years. At first, the way people acted and their manner puzzled me and sometimes offended me. I was in a way suffering from culture shock – the vast numbers of people, traffic, and difficulty in communicating even when the person spoke perfect English. However, a couple of months into arriving, I slowly began to realise through my Chinese lessons and my calligraphy classes that the Chinese people were rude because of the Cultural Revolution. “What do you want?” in a restaurant was common. It was direct and to the point. ‘Please’ is used rarely in general daily business. This was much to my horror and dismay. However, once I started examining the ancient characters (and even the simplified version used every day), I realised the richness of their language. In many ways, the Chinese save face and cannot express to each other their emotions in words. This is because the words i.e. the characters used in Chinese language are so rich and full of meaning. The Chinese do not say ‘I love you’ to a lover. This is because of Chinese face and also because is so full of meaning. For example the character for ‘love’ -In the centre of the pictogram, is the ‘heart’. Above and below the heart are characters for ‘breath’ and ‘graceful’ movement. Love, therefore, can be seen as a kind of inspiration. It breathes life into the heart and brings grace to the body. Therefore, one can see that is a highly spiritual emotion.
Colours and symbols are also important in Chinese culture. For example at festivals, they paint characters on red paper. The meanings vary greatly, they are welcoming to a new year and the red wards off ‘evil’ spirits. Many colours and numbers are considered unlucky or lucky as the case may be.
My time in China and calligraphy in particular has provided an endless source of inspiration to develop ideas for a jewellery range. Calligraphy characters are so beautiful that they are easily incorporated into designs for many pendants in particular. The beautiful statements one can make with Chinese calligraphy is wonderful. They are so full of meaning so it is a wonderful way to express how you feel to the world.