A Vernon artist is the first woman to be invited to China to exhibit her work alongside Chinese jade carving masters.
Deborah Wilson has been carving jade for 40 years and has been described by National Geographic as “among the best of the world’s contemporary jade sculptors.”
Her work has come to the attention of master carvers in China, who have invited her to compete in a highly prestigious national jade carving competition to be held in the fall of this year.
“It’s one thing to visit China, which is on the top of my bucket list, but quite another thing to go as an invited jade artist,” said Wilson.
The Arts and Crafts Association in the city of Suzhou, a jade carving centre close to Shanghai, is paying all of Wilson’s expenses so that she can show her jade sculptures with thousands of Chinese jade carvers in the annual Zi Gang Bei competition.
Wilson will join three other male jade artists from outside China – one from New Zealand and two from the U.S. – at the event.
Wilson and her male colleagues say they are honoured to be a part of this event, and are hard at work in their respective studios preparing for this competition.
“Our small group will be the first ever to show and compete with the Chinese master carvers. What an opportunity to mix and mingle with such incredible carvers,” said Wilson. “I hope to be able to see how they work in their studios and workshops, study the tools they use, and of course be tempted to procure some of their nephrite jade.”
Locally, Wilson’s work has been featured at Ashpa Naira and Headbones Galleries in Vernon, ARTE Funktional in Kelowna, as well as at Gallery Odin on Silver Star Mountain.
Her jade sculpture, Kalamalka Reflections, which sits in front of the former library building in Vernon’s Spirit Square, was created during the 2002 Okanagan-Thompson-International Sculpture Symposium.
Her work has also been commisioned across Canada and internationally.
“For many years I’ve been encouraging and creating contemporary jade art,” said Wilson. “Currently there is momentum coming from dedicated members of our vibrant jade community in seeing that this ancient and enduring art form flourish in the international realm. A dream of mine, shared by others, is now becoming a reality.”