My name is Aine Breen and I created Liwu Jewellery while struggling to find my way in a new world that I had been thrown into. I am Irish and moved to China with my husband in 2011. I gave up my much-loved job and life in Dublin to support his career in Beijing.
My designs are the product of finding meaning in this new world. 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, once I started examining the ancient characters (and even the simplified version used in every day life), I realised the richness of the Chinese language. In many ways, the Chinese save face and cannot express to each other their emotions in spoken word. In contrast the written word i.e. the characters used in Chinese language are so rich and full of meaning. Chinese people, for example, do not say ‘I love you’ to a lover. This is because of a need to ‘save face’ and because ‘love’ is regarded as such a highly emotional state.
I always appreciated delicate fine jewellery and my favourite piece was a simple necklace that just said ‘love’. I like to make a subtle statement with my jewellery. For many people, jewellery is a form of expression. Jewellery allows expressions through words and symbolism and for individuals to make a statement. Liwu jewellery incorporates Chinese calligraphy and allows individuals to make a statement and express themselves in a very subtle manner. Many pieces incorporate Chinese wishes, beliefs and also just simple words from their language. It is a collection of my favourites which I picked up from individuals I met, Chinese culture books I read, Chinese language classes and of course, my calligraphy teacher, Paul Wang.
‘Liwu’ means gift in Chinese. All pieces come with a beautiful box and a ‘meaning card’ containing an explanation of what the characters mean.