BRIAN Matheson was intrigued.
In 2003, the North Vancouver resident was helping his family open a jade shop in Juneau, Alaska. He was taken by the material, which happens to be B.C.'s provincial gemstone and is mined here, and opted to investigate its history, finding its use went back to ancient civilizations across the globe.
"I read every single book that I could find on it, or if anyone had a question that I didn't know, I would go research it," he says.
Matheson also learned how to carve it and is now a professional jade artist, primarily crafting sculptures and jewelry. His studio is part of 195 Studios - Artists on Pemberton in North Vancouver.
"My real love is jade," he says, of his artistic leanings. Matheson is also committed to educating others about the stone's potential.
"I've learned so much from carving jade, it seemed to give me reason to go forward, that I wanted more people to try it," he says. "I just thought it was such a great learning experience and the process of sculpture, it can be translated into living your life. There's some of these processes or orders of things that really helped develop my life or (can) be applied to other situations in life. I thought it was very valuable for other people to learn this form of creation."
With that in mind, Matheson has organized the World Jade Symposium and sent 50 blocks of Yukon jade, each 3x2x1-inch in size, to artists - some jade carvers and some not - around the world. They've been given three months and free rein to create a work of their choosing, from June 1 to Sept. 1.
Photos of their pieces will be posted on the World Jade Symposium website, www.jadesymposium.com from Sept 15-30. Community members are encouraged to cast votes for their favourite. The top three will be eligible for $1,800 in prizes and voters will be entered into a draw to win a work by Matheson.
The symposium has also provided a forum for interested parties to share ideas, techniques and tips on what tools to use via a Facebook group, which has proven popular.
"I can't tell you how overwhelming it is, the enthusiasm that's shown from everybody - the idea has really been embraced - and the quality and time people are putting into it," he says.
For more information on the World Jade Symposium, or to register to receive a reminder about the voting period, visit www.jadesymposium.com.
For more information on upcoming workshops and learning opportunities with Matheson, visit www.pagodastone.com.