Wallace Chan moved from Fuzhou, China to Hong Kong with his parents and three siblings in the early 60s, when he was five years old. He spent much of his childhood in extreme poverty. After only two years of education in a rooftop school, he started working full-time at the age of 13 to support his family. Most of the time, he worked as a delivery boy, hawker or textile worker.
At the age of 16, he realised that it was important to acquire a skill to improve his prospects. In 1973, after then US President Nixon's first visit to China, there was strong demand for Chinese artefacts in the West. With Hong Kong's position as an export hub, its carving industry prospered against this backdrop. Chan became an apprentice in a gemstone-carving workshop.
After nine months in the workshop, Chan was bored by the repetitive tasks. His desire to create freely prompted him to leave the workshop against his family's will and found his own gemstone-carving workshop by the fire escape at his home. It was 1974, and he was 17 years old.
This section shows some of the carvings he created during the period from 1973 to the early 1980s. The works were themed on Chinese folklore and Buddhist figures. As a poor, young carver, he had to sell each piece right after completion to buy more materials for his creations. Therefore, only some of the less refined pieces that were not sold remain today to be photographed for the archive.
First image: Lady General Mu by Wallace Chan (Sulptures & Carvings)
You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in our emails.