The Mary and Philbert Chin Gallery
In island Southeast Asia, an immense amount of artistic energy is channelled into the production of jewellery, which appears in a dazzling array of forms and styles. One of the oldest art forms, adornments are essential to the human experience. From life to death, jewellery is present at every stage and shares an intimate relationship with its wearer. Its public display communicates ideas of beauty, rank, and status in vast and unexpected ways.
For many communities, the human body was the first and most important medium of art. Jewellery was made to venerate, honour, and lavish care on the body. In turn, each object was created to embody a language, code, and message.
Practically, jewellery was a condensed form of wealth, portable and wearable. For some, it may express basic human sentiments such as love and devotion. For others, jewellery represents the universe in microcosm and regulates social interactions of the living. It can even express complex human relations with the supernatural realm.
The jewellery on display showcases a region that has always had a dynamic and adaptive relationship with the world. Global trading networks enabled the movement of people and ideas. Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, Chinese, Persian, Indian, Ottoman, and other influences have left a strong impact. New ideas were adapted and re-interpreted in order to suit local contexts, giving birth to a wide vocabulary of jewellery forms and styles.
The Mary and Philbert Chin gallery is the first permanent gallery in the world to spotlight island Southeast Asian jewellery, exhibiting its varied and complex styles, forms and uses through a showcase of artefacts from the Neolithic period to the 20th century. The gallery illustrates how jewellery is present at every stage of life, and shares an intimate relationship with its wearer, functioning beyond the aesthetics.
The Jewellery gallery is supported by Mr Edmond Chin, who contributed a generous gift of funds and Southeast Asian jewellery in honour of his parents, Mary and Philbert Chin.
About Mr Edmond Chin
Edmond Chin is a long-time friend and benefactor of ACM. Born in Singapore, Mr Chin graduated from Oxford University with a degree in geography. His lifelong interest and passion for jewellery and design led him to become a curator, collector, and head of the jewellery department at Christie’s Hong Kong, and finally the proprietor of his own jewellery salon, Etcetera Ltd, based in Hong Kong.
Mr Chin’s generous donation in 2002 added rare jewellery from Island Southeast Asia to ACM's collection. In 2019, Mr Chin’s further cash support enabled the completion of this new jewellery gallery. Highlight pieces include a gold headdress worn by the Minangkabau, one of the few remaining matrilineal societies in the world, and a splendid peacock belt studded with 75 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds.
A three-time recipient of the Patron of Heritage Award (POHA), Mr Chin was Distinguished Patron of the Year in 2015, and Partner in 2016 and 2019.