Terry Martin
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China, March to April, 2014

World Wood Day 2014

When the two sculptures were finished they were loaded onto a truck and we all went to Xianyou for World Wood Day. It was held in Expo City and there was an army of woodcarvers waiting to demonstrate their work to visitors. The opening ceremony alone was impressive enough.

 

Tanzanian dancers perform for the assembled crowd at the opening ceremony
Tanzanian dancers perform for the assembled crowd at the opening ceremony.

 

We assembled the gateway and archway to stand as centrepieces for the events of WWD.

 

The gateway is hauled upright with the help of volunteers 
The gateway is hauled upright with the help of volunteers.

 

On behalf of the American Association of Woodturners I arranged a team of international turners to demonstrate at World Wood Day. As always, turning is very popular in China and we drew large crowds. We were joined by a team of traditional turners from Shawo village who I met in 2013. They greeted us like old friends and loved being part of an international event.

 

The AAW turning team and friends. 
The AAW turning team and friends:
L-R Rear: Victor Verecchia (Vicmarc Machinery sponsored this event), Su Jinling (IWCS),
Cheng Jinqing, Li Jiafang (Shawo village), Mike Hou (IWCS), Terry Martin, Theo Haralampou (AAW Australia).
Front: Li Xuemin (Shawo village), Andrew Chen (USA - AAW),
Adam Doran (AAW- Ireland, Bonnie Klein (AAW- USA)

 

Terry and Li Jiafang
When the group of traditional turners who Terry met in Shawo in 2013
at World Wood Day saw him, they ran across the square to embrace him as an old friend.
Terry and Li Jiafang exchanged their turned pieces.

 

One of the best moments of whole weekend was when Adam Doran, at 22 the youngest member of the turning team, was shown how to turn on a traditional lathe by Cheng Jinching, at 85 the oldest turner there. It showed how a shared craft like woodturning can break down cultural and linguistic barriers. The respect they showed each other was very moving. 

 

Adam Doran and Cheng Jinching.
Adam Doran and Cheng Jinching.

 

There was just too much going on at WWD to absorb. One of the highlights for me was seeing more of the extraordinary carving produced by Chinese masters. They are undoubtedly the most skilled carvers I have ever seen.  

 

Two figures in boxwood.
Two figures in boxwood, each carved from one solid piece, around 1.2 metres high.
I returned to these figures again and again, in awe of the perfection of the work.

 

This is a detail of a sculpture around one metre high of a spider waiting in his web to catch insects.
I am constantly amazed by the risks Chinese carvers are prepared to take.
This is a detail of a sculpture around one metre high of a spider waiting in his web to catch insects.
The web, bamboo shoots and trapped dragonflies are all carved from a single block of wood.
How easy would it be to destroy all this work with one slip?

 

Sometimes it is hard to believe how good life can be. On the last day I went back to take some final photos of our installation and found a group of young furniture makers sitting under our arch, talking quite intensely. As I circled to take photos, I could hear they were talking about peace between their countries.  

 

The young furniture makers under our arch.
The young furniture makers under our arch.

 

I asked them why they had chosen to sit under the arch and they told me that “it seemed like a good place to talk”. When I explained to them that an international team of carvers had made the arch as a symbol of harmony between cultures, they were delighted. I joined in their conversation and learned that some of them are from countries that have sad histories of war. They were earnestly trying to think of ways to promote peace between their homelands. I left them planning a project that will embody their dreams and I hope to report about it in the near future.

 

Peace and harmony under the arch. 
Peace and harmony under the arch.
L-R: Aditi Agrawal (India); Adam Sadat (Ghana); Omar Al Outa (Lebanon); Terry Martin (Australia);
Ahmad (Syria); Aviad Abuhazira (Israel); George Carlow (UK).

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