Jade carvers, experts find a forum in Canada

Updated: 2014-12-12 00:34

By JUSTINE HUANG in Vancouver(China Daily USA)

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Jade carvers, experts find a forum in Canada

One of the jade and bronze sculptures from the Baby with the Swaddle series by sculptor Georg Schmerholz. JUSTINE HUANG / 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.