Have you heard of branded seashells? Well, Hong Kong-based Elmo Chung Ka Yan, a self-taught artist specialising in miniature paintings on seashells, created her own brand, “She Saw Seashells” in 2012.
Based in Tai O on Lantau Island, Chung left her city job to become a dessert chef on the fishing village that is built on stilts. It is here that the 25-year old Chung collects, cleans, colours and coats the seashells which are then offered for sale.
Her “seashells” have “travelled” 2,600 kilometres (1,600 miles) from Hong Kong to Singapore as Crystal Time, a watch distributor headquartered in Singapore and responsible for Arbutus watches in this part of the world, is offering Chung’s artwork featured on its watch dials (instead of shells) as part of commemorative editions that are meant to celebrate Singapore’s 50th year of independence in 2015 (1965 to 2015).
Known as the Arbutus “Singapore Heritage” Commemorative timepieces, the collection features Chung’s hand-painted work with themes related to the country’s heritage such as batik, Peranakan porcelain, Chek Jawa’s flora and fauna (Chek Jawa is a rich ecosystem located on Pulau Ubin, one of Singapore’s islands) and the Istana (the official residence of the country’s President).
Among Chung’s featured artworks is the Arbutus “Chek Jawa Batik” watch which has batik and seashell motifs. The original dial had a mother-of-pearl finish.
According to Crystal Time, there will be five more timepieces and all proceeds from the sales of the Arbutus Singapore Heritage Commemorative watches will be donated to The Little Arts Academy, a company offering dance, music, theatre and visual arts, notably to disadvantaged children.
The Little Arts Academy is managed by The RICE Company Limited, a non-profit organisation.