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Greenstone Sculpture Has Near Purity Of Sound

A sinuous greenstone sculpture on exhibit at the COCA gallery in Christchurch produces near pure tones as a percussion instrument, according to a sound expert.

Dr Chris Cree Brown, an associate professor at the Canterbury University School of Music, says the tendril-shaped jade emits a chord with three predominant notes and resonates strongly for up to half a minute.

"The sounds it produces when struck are very pure and are derived from its unique shape and structure,” he says.

The tendril was sculpted from a 100kg greenstone boulder by West Coast sculptor Ian Boustridge, whose work is sought after by galleries and art investors worldwide.

"This is the third in a series of musical instruments made from New Zealand jade. It has taken over a thousand hours to complete," Ian says.

"The secret of bringing greenstone to life in art is to work with the stone and not against it. The stone dictates what can or cannot be done, regardless of how skilled the sculptor may be."

Ian says the tendril was made from a boulder he located about 15 years ago in the Marsden jade field, inland from Greymouth.

"When cut it turned out to be a flawless example of the highest quality jade, which contributes to its purity of sound."
Dr Cree Brown, who composed the electro-acoustic piece 'Under Erebus' after a trip to Antarctica, has made a soundscape from recordings of the tendril being played.

This track is used as background music for the tendril's display at the COCA gallery exhibition from 21 November to 9 December.

A total of 17 jade sculptures by Ian Boustridge are exhibited, including translucent mask sculptures which have attracted considerable interest from American, European and Asian buyers.

One of the intricately detailed, oval-shaped masks sold recently for $100,000 to an art investor in the United States. The tendril is also for sale at a similar price.
Greenstone Sculpture Has Near Purity Of Sound
Ian Boustridge - Jade Sculptor