Thursday, 2 October 2014

British jade talent

Come and meet Andrew, the English jade carving master.

Andrew the British jade carving master
Andrew was a journalist working for the BBC. He once bought a jade piece from a shop in Thailand and was fascinated by its beauty and texture. He then developed a liking for everything in jade. When he was free, he would read up anything on jade. At the age of over 50, he left his job (due to stress) and went to Suzhou in search of a jade carving master to learn the art of jade carving from him. Although Suzhou does not produce jade, it is the place where jade carving masters practice the trade hundreds of years ago. As a result, Suzhou is famous for jade carving and the masters are all very skillful and well known in this part of the world.

Suzhou, a town renown for jade carving
When Andrew was in Suzhou, he went from one place to another in search for anyone who would teach him jade carving. Due to his age, no jade master would want to take him as a student to impart the skills of jade carving. In this country, most people learn jade carving at a very young age, maybe when they are below 20 years of age. At 60, most jade masters would retire due to poor eye sight and shaky hands. Although he was frustrated, Andrew did nor give up due to his love for jade craving. After more than half a year of trying, he finally found someone who was willing to teach him the art.
Andrew working on his jade
Initially it was tough for him as he could not speak the language and he was also slow due to his age. However, he persevered and continued to visit the teacher rain or shine. To survive, he took up a job to teach English to the locals. Meantime, he also worked very hard to acquire the language of the locals. Now, not only he could very well, he could also read and write the language of the locals. But to excel in the art of jade carving was no easy task for a foreigner like himself. Don't forget, the Chinese people learned this art hundreds of years ago and there were thousands and thousands of jade carving masters in China.

Andrew endured the hardship and his determination paid off. He was able to acquire some skills in the art of jade carving. Although he might not be as good as the Chinese masters, he was able to blend Western art and culture in his carving. He designed every piece of his carving according to his taste and desire. He did every thing himself from selecting the stone to the final step in polishing work.
One of his carving works
To monitor his progress, he often showed his art pieces to another renown master from Suzhou. He would get advice from this master and tried to improve his skills. His skills advanced further and he developed his own style in jade carving. He commented that he like jade carving so much that he would could not live one day without engaging in this art.

Andrew and his jade-master friend
At his workshop with his tools of the trade

Over the years, Andrew had created quite a lot of his jade carving pieces. He wanted to hold one solo exhibition in Shanghai and he was working towards this goal.

He even married a local and they lived happily in Suzhou, a place he now called home.

Andrew's jade piece, his own creation
Although I like jade carvings, I do not have the courage to take up jade carving, not to mention the daunting task of looking for a jade master willing to impart his skills. This is the reason why I admire Andrew's passion and determination to learn jade carving in a strange land from a strange master and he could not even speak his strange language. Against all odds, he succeeded in his dream. Most importantly, he integrated well to the society and he enjoyed a new lease of life doing the thing he enjoyed.

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