Jade carvers, ex­perts find a fo­rum in Canada

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSCANADA - By JUS­TINE HUANG in Van­cou­ver for China Daily

Jade is the pre­cious stone that brings them to­gether.

“Peo­ple around the world share this common bond and this love for the stone and the art, that the amount of ef­forts they’ve put into the carv­ing them­selves is out­stand­ing,” said Brian Mathe­son, the founder and di­rec­tor of the World Jade Sym­po­sium As­so­ci­a­tion (WJSA).

Mathe­son spoke dur­ing the 2014 World Jade Sym­po­sium at the Rob­son Square UBC in Van­cou­ver Nov 21-23.

The con­fer­ence fea­tured an ex­hi­bi­tion of master carvers’ col­lec­tions, a ma­jor carv­ing com­pe­ti­tion, on-site carv­ing, a doc­u­men­tary film premiere and talks by dis­tin­guished speak­ers from all over the world.

“It’s taken me a lot of work to put th­ese things to­gether, but it’s noth­ing com­pared to the level of th­ese works and the artists that par­tic­i­pated,” Mathe­son said.

The sym­po­sium was spon­sored by the Cen­tre of Chi­nese Re­search, IAR. of UBC, Bri­tish Columbia Lap­idary As­so­ci­a­tion, As­so­ci­a­tion of Min­eral Ex­plo­ration B.C., Van­cou­ver Art Gallery, provin­cial gov­ern­ment and more.

After re­ceiv­ing much pos­i­tive feed­back on the first world jade sym­po­sium in 2011, the bi­en­nial event had its sec­ond gath­er­ing, with more than 60 top in­ter­na­tional jade carvers and a spe­cial ed­u­ca­tional pre­sen­ta­tion by Pro­fes­sor Shup­ing Teng, a world-renowned scholar of Chi­nese jade who is the chief cu­ra­tor and re­searcher at the Na­tional Palace Mu­seum of Tai­wan.

Dur­ing her pre­sen­ta­tion, Teng talked about the ori­gin and evo­lu­tion of bi-discs jade (cir­cu­lar, with a hole in the cen­ter), the most fas­ci­nat­ing and long-last­ing jade used by an­cient Chi­nese rit­ual in­sti­tu­tions. Her pre­sen­ta­tion gave peo­ple in­sight into the im­por­tance of jade in the life of the an­cient Chi­nese.

Mathe­son, a North Van­cou­ver jade carver since 2003, or­ga­nized the World Jade Sym­po­sium with the hope of cre­at­ing a bonded com­mu­nity of artists who can con­nect with each other and share their love for the green gem­stone.

“Sure, there were teach­ing pro­grams and stuff around the world, but we cer­tainly lacked here in Bri­tish Columbia, par­tic­u­larly where we hap­pen to have the bless­ing of jade re­sources in a very won­der­ful prov­ince that we call home,” Mathe­son said.

“With all th­ese things, it seemed like a log­i­cal thing in my brain to bring some of th­ese peo­ple out to act as a cat­a­lyst in this in­for­ma­tion-shar­ing where we can be­come bet­ter,” he said.

Mathe­son and his brother, An­drew, have trav­eled to Asia, South Amer­ica, Mex­ico, Cen­tral Amer­ica and New Zealand to meet with other master carvers, gemol­o­gists, min­ers and cul­tural ex­perts to learn more about the “stone of heaven”.

An­drew Mathe­son also made a doc­u­men­tary film called Cir­cle of Life on the trips that re­united the world’s jade cul­tures. The film, which pre­miered at the Novem­ber con­fer­ence, fea­tures Western artists par­tic­i­pat­ing in a jade-carv­ing com­pe­ti­tion in China; min­ing pro­duc­tion in Bri­tish Columbia; and in­ter­views with lo­cal jade-carv­ing artists and Western artists work­ing in China.

Mathe­son hopes that Canada, es­pe­cially Bri­tish Columbia, can be rec­og­nized as the world’s largest sup­ply of neph­rite jade one day, and that de­mand for jade will flour­ish, cre­at­ing more min­ing jobs in Bri­tish Columbia.

JUS­TINE HUANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

One of the jade and bronze sculp­tures from the Baby with­theSwad­dle se­ries by sculp­tor Ge­org Sch­mer­holz.

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