Audio Series: Jade Art by Kristy Wilson | Mountain Jade New Zealand

interviews - 07,Jan,2016

Audio Series: Jade Art by Kristy Wilson

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Jade artist Kristy Wilson works in a shared workshop with mentor and long time friend Stan McCallum on the South Islands West Coast. Kirsty was lucky enough to meet Stan because he's spent alot of time to teach Kristy everything he knows about pounamu carving. We sat down over a mug of milky tea and spoke of her first piece of pounamu, why a lot of stone art isin't good enough, and how carving 'should be organic.' Hear her story or read the transcript below.



How did you discover your first piece of jade?

I think I was about 11 when I picked up the first actual piece of jade. I was sort of born and bred here in Hokitika and my grandfather was Wereitah Tainui, the chief of the Arahura river, so ever since I was a little kid we've whitebaited on the Arahura. You would always be like,' is this a piece, is this a piece?', and you were always looking for it but because there's serpentine and bowenite...(it was hard to find). I mean, it's really cool anyway, going up the river. I mean, we'll take the dogs, and we'll go fishing or for a swim and it's kind of a bonus if you find a nice little piece. So it's cool because it's all around me. I didn't really think, 'oh yeah, I'm going to grow up and become a jade carver,' sort of thing. Still now I'm like, 'I don't know what I want to be when I grow up,' (laughs). But I did always say when I was little that I was going to be an artist or an actress.

So, you love carving jade then?

Yeah I love it eh. It's a job but it's definitely a love as well. It's a passion, and it's a real nice stone to work with. It's just beautiful. Every single piece is so different to the next, even if it has come off the same stone, there's just so so many colours and so much character. And it just has a real nice vibe you know, it's a real positive vibe, and you enjoy making things from it. And you can't beat the fact that you put something in the cabinet and someone walks in an hour later and buys it. It's awesome that people think your work is so cool that they want to wear it on their chest, proudly. Yeah, I love it, I'm real proud. It's cool.

Tell me about when you first started carving.

Well at the start It was just drops, hooks, twists...learning pretty much. But now we do replicas for the New Zealand army, like great big trophies, and replica missiles, and grenades, so they're pretty fun. A challenge is always good you know, something real exciting.

How has your design base developed over time?

It's good here with Stan because he's always been about doing different things. So even when we're doing stock, like twists or hooks or korus, each one we try and do a little bit different so they're not just your basic style all the time. So they're always a little bit different. And in winter we always try and do more detailed things, you know, like really nice manaias and really big double korus, just stuff that's a bit more exciting.

So what do you love about carving?

Chicks are alot more into the smaller finer details, and the finish. Alot of people don't sand in the middle of their hooks, or korus, and I mean it doesn't take alot of time. Spend time on the technique itself, then style and then after that speed. It's like the icing on the cake, and it just makes it (the carving) so much nicer. It's this attention to detail that I love.