Jade is a scarce and precious resource not just on the West Coast but worldwide. Which is why a generous donation of about 225 kilograms of non-commercial jade to Tai Poutini Polytechnic (TPP) is a huge windfall for the polytechnic.
TPP received the donation from West Coaster, private miner and author Peter Neame who sourced the jade from his private mining claim obtained in the 1970’s for the Marsden area of the West Coast.
Neame, 59, has been fossicking for gold and jade for most of his adult life. While he has lived in Brisbane for the past fourteen years he still feels a strong connection to the West Coast.
“The students are the future. I wanted to give them the opportunity to learn how to work jade of this size,” says Neame.
A born and bred West Coaster, Neame was a well-known public figure in the area between 1980 and 1993, when he worked as the deputy chairman on the West Coast Electric Power Board and ran an antique shop in Greymouth.
He has written four books including: “Gold, Coins, Greenstone and Bottles” where he shares his experience of prospecting, the luck of finding precious stones and coins and treasure hunting.
Jade and Hard stone Carving lead tutor Jayne Beaumont says the polytechnic is delighted to receive the stone.
“Peter is so right, ‘the students are the future’ and we are so grateful to have this generous donation to support that future and this quantity will allow us to do so for a number of years for graduates of the programmes,” she says.
“Although not of high commercial quality the size and scale of this stone will allow greater learning for the students’, allowing them the opportunity to assess the usability of each and cut them according to their structure and utilise it to its maximum potential.”
“It will require technical skill on behalf of the students which will be done with guidance and instruction,” says Beaumont. “It will be our pleasure to showcase the results of this student learning using Peter’s stone at the next student exhibition in November this year at the Left Bank Gallery.”
Tai Poutini Polytechnic is the only tertiary institution in the country to offer the Certificate and Diploma in Jade and Hard Stone Carving. Led by Beaumont, a well-known carver in her own right, the programme caters for students of all ages with a passion for working in stone many of whom who will go on to develop it as a profession.
The Level 4 Certificate programme teaches students basic skills in how to identify the best way to cut a range of hard stone, and develops both their art and design skills. At the Level 5 Diploma, students manage their own workloads, including research and design, to develop their own design interpretations from studying carving cultures.