From now until January 24, the National Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall in Taipei City is THE place to go! Not for the changing of the guard, although that’s quite fun if you arrive on the hour like hundreds of tourists do, and like we did yesterday. But even more fascinating is the Wood Sculpture Exhibition by Master Chang Ching 張敬, it’s STUNNING!
Master Chang’s story was published over 10 years ago in English by the Buddhist Tzu-Chi Organization (click here for the article), and it’s fascinating to read ~ he has a great Christian testimony! He’s now nearly 80 and still going strong, having started off in his younger days as an optician – for 20 years – before moving into sculpture. He comes from a Presbyterian family in Dounan Township in Yunlin County, and a few years ago I had the honour of visiting him in his home along with Bishop Lai and some CMS visitors, Warren and Winsome. Bishop Lai’s brother is a member of the same church as Master Chang in Dounan, and over the years he’s gone there to purchase some of his sculptures as special gifts. Before he launches forth on carving the actual wood, Master Chang often makes a kind of prototype first in some other material, and it’s one of those prototypes, ‘Glory’ that he gave to me and I still have. Winsome and Warren were given one each too. He also gave me one of his wooden crosses. At the time I remember he told us that we are all in the same work, of sharing the Christian Gospel with others, so he was delighted to give us some of his sculptures!
The wood that Master Chang uses is always dead wood, often petrified and fossilized, and much of his work has a Biblical theme, or of landscapes and nature, which give glory to God. Many of his figures that he carves into the wood are tiny, so tiny in fact that it’s hard to see them unless you know they are there. For that reason also, many of his most beautiful works are in glass cases which preserve them, but make them a nightmare to photograph – cos of the reflections!
Last Saturday was the opening day of Master Chang’s exhibition, and Bishop Lai was one of the 12 VIP ribbon-cutters. Yesterday he took all the diocesan office staff, plus me, to visit the exhibition, and we also had the honour of meeting Master Chang and his daughter. He is so lovely, so passionate, so gentle and so welcoming!
So do go if you can ~ it’s really well worth it!
And if you want to catch the changing of the guard at the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, get there on the hour, and if you want somewhere to eat, try the buffet down in the basement, it’s good!
A great outing ~ and you cannot fail to be moved by Master Chang’s amazing exquisite sculptures!