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Stone flask 2003 Chinese nephrite (jade) 7 X 14 X 17 cm
This was a piece I sort of completed during my residency in Beijing in July 2003. I viewed this as a work-in-progress or something I could return to in the future. As an exercise it was worthwhile but I don't think the finished piece was sufficiently interesting to stand in its own right.
This 'stone flask' was a piece of jade which I specifically wanted to use due to its specific properties and also its cultural associations with China. Historic and contemporary jade carving in Beijing concentrates mainly on the qualities of jade that make it possible to carve very intricate designs. Although I would like to explore this in the future (I brought some raw jade home with me) on the residency I wanted to explore the translucency, colour and texture of the stone. The 'stone flask' I produced I think explored these qualities with thick and thin and recessed areas and a smooth polish (something I normally hate but the texture of polished jade is unusual, silky, 'like a woman's skin' it is said!).
The idea of carving a simple vessel shape was inspired by my visits to the museums to see the archaic bronze and clay vessels of all shapes and sizes, the bronzes in particular are really stunning pieces of sculpture in terms of proportion, shape and ornamentation, with the finest of fine detail perfectly complementing the form. Carving a simple vessel shape with no conceptual baggage was an idea that appealed.
Update 2006: having never been happy with this carving I decided in 2006 to re-carve it into the sculpture 'Hero', a jade mallet. This was one of my original ideas in China, to carve a mallet, but I became too enthused with the vessel forms I had seen, resulting in my initially carving the flask form.