I had the great fortune to be able to photograph Liu Kun Hui (劉坤輝), an artisan that has achieved Taiwan’s National Treasure grade status (國寶級).
Liu Kun Hui is 85 years old and began his apprenticeship when he was 15.I met the talented artisan in his Tainan house to produce some photos of his gold crafts, tools as well as a very quick portrait.
He said the gold teapot pictured here took him a year to make. Then he clarified, “Not like a 9-5 job though – I would start work early in the morning and work deep into the night every day.” An artisan in the true sense of the word.
Many of his tools are self made so he can make exactly what he wants. The lathe pictured above has been modified to work his gold.
The exhibit is called ‘Golden Days: The Gold Sculpture of Liu Kun Hui’ (鎏金歲月─劉坤輝金工展)
The exhibit runs until December 21st 2014 at the Tsung Yeh Arts and Cultural Center in Madou.
While in his home, I was offered tea from one of the golden cups pictured above. It was supposed to taste better but I was skeptical. However, as a guest, I prepared to proclaim how good the tea tasted compared to the tea in a porcelain cup as I took a sip. I was really surprised that the tea actually did taste better out of the gold cup.
Liu Kun Hui is from an era where apprentices began to learn their crafts from a master at a very young age and when they have learned all they can, spend the remainder of their lives perfecting it. A few would have the innate talent and creativity to innovate and elevate their craft to art.
Sadly, there is no one to carry on his work today.
In addition to his works of art, Liu has designed and produced unique tools so that he could better create his art.