Harmony Kingdom

The Harmony Kingdom Reference Guide
  Harmony Kingdom Travels to the Far East: 1997

England and China have been trading partners as early as 1715, when the British East India Company set up headquarters in Canton. Martin knew the Chinese were expert painters, skilled in the art of calligraphy as early as 1300 BC. Moving production of Harmony Garden to China was explored at great length and the decision to do so was finally made in May of 1997. The first shipment of Harmony Garden Chapter I arrived from China in November 1997.

Mid 1997 another chance occurrence took place that helped to shape the future of Harmony Kingdom. Lee Cheng, president and artistic director of Concordia Corporation, was visiting the 225 Gift Building in New York City where Harmony Ball Company has a showroom. He happened upon the showroom and met with Noel, who was very impressed with him and introduced him to Martin. Lee Cheng is a classical violinist and his wife is a well-known watercolorist. Together they share the artistic acumen needed to create Harmony Kingdom box figurines. With Lee in charge of production, Martin has been able to unleash full creativity, knowing that his ambitious designs need not be compromised.

During the International Collectible Exposition in Rosemont in June 1999, I had the pleasure of spending several hours with Lee Cheng. I found him to be a gentle, caring man who is proud to help the people in China make better lives for themselves. Inland China is extremely poor with little opportunity. Most people till a small piece of land with no prospects for the future. Many young people leave their homes to work in coastal areas where wages are as much as four times higher. Here they work for four or five years and save their earnings, after which they can return home, get married, build a house and live more comfortably. In Lee's factory all of the craftspeople are at least 18 years of age; most are in their early twenties and have a high school education. Each person is given room and board near the factory, so most of what is earned may be saved. Lee emphasises the pride that everyone takes in creating the box figurines. He says that Harmony Kingdom is everyone's favourite and definitely the most challenging work they have ever done. Lee plans on setting up an exclusive HK production facility in year 2000, employing the most talented artisans from his other workshops.




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