Stones in Hualien are the DNA of the City. It is not only the distinctive gift from the heaven, but also the source of life passing through the Mipaliw Sea.
The stones are concealed in the wooded mountains---since Hualien has had abundant stone resources, especially marbles which deposit is up to more than 300 billion metric tons and comparable to those in Carrara, Italian, so that Hualien has become one of the world's best marble producing areas. Meanwhile, there are unique serpentine and Fung-tien jade deposits in Hualien, too. Experiencing the orogeny makes the ores form a distinctive landscape cultural property geographically---i.e. Taroko Gorge and Qingshui Cliff. The properties hide themselves in the rivers---with mountain ores co-existentially standing in the streams or being scoured down the river and falling into the creek bottom or river bank which results in various colorful East Coast jades. It has been the leisure fun in many Hualien residents’ memories to pick up jades or ores in Baibao Creek and Lao Creek.
Such properties are also concealed in daily life---80% stone resources in Taiwan comes from Hualien, and its processing equipment and production capacity rank second in the world, only after Italy. There are about 20% of Hualien residents engaging in relevant stone-related industries. The sidewalks paved with remnant marbles, bus shelters decorated with stone sculptures, walls collaged by stone materials and a lot of stone factories, stone art merchants, stone-carving artist studios etc. being established in Hualien County have witnessed that there is a life emotion of “coexisting with stone” among Hualien residents. And such properties are concealed in ocean, too---after scoured out to the sea by the streams, the falling stones are scrubbed and polished in the tides of the Pacific Ocean; then, they are brought back to the coast and become various beautiful stones of rounded pebbles, quartz and so on suffusing the Chi-shing-tan beach. Such breath-taking scenery is always enchanting to visitors, and that is a new gift awarded by the Nature.
From the ancient times on, the Mipaliw Sea and stones have been here in Hualien shining their lights and closely connected with the nature and humanities in Hualien, enlightening and feeding Hualien’s culture, as well as testifying the exclusiveness of Hualien.
Stone sculpture art is the best way of arts that can show the spirit of Hualien people. And stone materials are the hardest and thickest existence in the nature, and any flesh and blood would look tiny while standing in front of the huge stone. Having been living in the eastern coast since ancient times where there are mercurial climate and geology, Hualienese are used to confronting natural disasters such as typhoon and earthquake etc. and have cultivated unyielding persistent character as the more severe the challenges, the more they are unwilling to lose; therefore, while facing stone materials that are hard and difficult to shake, Hualienese are courageous to appreciate the characteristics of the huge stones, close to them, love them , research them, and even raise hands to carve them and sublime them to the realm of aesthetics.
Stone sculpture art is a very hard art, but it is also a highly pure art. It has reached the limit of the load of human’s creation and the pinnacle of material hardness, pursuing the minimal of integrating the nature and the form, which is the only type of art that is not afraid of wind and rain. It is an original artistic existence entwined by the nature and humanistic attitude of Hualien geography. Actually, what the stone sculptural art talks is Hualien humanities and culture which glows light after being sharpened.
Why would we organize the " Hualien International Stone Sculpture Symposium”? It is not only a festival of Hualien’s humanities and an activity inviting friends all over the world to get together here, but it is also a gesture of Hualien City to hand out her own business card to the world to tell her own city image by way of “stone carving art" as a medium.
The English word “symposium” of the “International Stone Sculpture Symposium”, the core activity in the “Hualien International Stone Sculptural Festival”, is translated into Chinese characters meaning “feast” which is a kind of meeting or ritual in ancient Greece. In the book “Symposium” written by Plato, it clearly indicates that symposium is a gathering for human beings to pursue beauty and good, as well as show the enthusiasm for wisdom. All the humanistic activities are generated by the motives of emotions and sensibility.
Therefore, various activities of the “Hualien International Stone Sculptural Festival” such as Stone Sculpture Symposium, exhibition and seminar, the purpose is to pursue the highest level of beauty and good by way of perceptual art activities leading the audience to think about the meaning of the art piece during the process of romantic and practical creation and appreciation so as to know once again themselves and the land where they live.
It has been 25 years since the “Hualien International Stone Sculptural Festival” was held in Hualien County. Currently, it is one of the longest and uninterrupted art-creation activities in Taiwan, building for a long time a reputation brand of high-quality art in East Taiwan. The festival has not only calculated more than one hundred masterpieces of outdoor large-scale stone carvings for Hualien County and providing local residents and outsiders/foreign visitors a nice enjoyment of culture, but also made the stone carving art in Hualien famous all over the world and become an important local art asset.
The theme of the 12th “Hualien International Stone Sculptural Festival” is set to “Stone Mambo”, which concept is based on the artists’ creation process and the "movement" is taken as the main axis to penetrate the connotation of various activities in the festival. Though the stonework is a quiet art after completion, during the artist’s creative process, she/he has been circling around the huge stone and wielding various implements just like performing a graceful dance. While such brilliant dances are finished one after another, a lot of uncanny masterpieces are what have been left.
“Stone sculpture” is a traditional art, but tradition does not mean backwardness. By way of continually going on elaborating and interpreting the classic values, such art can also become even newer as time goes by. The role which Hualien International Stone Carving Art Festival played is precisely the connection platform between Hualien and the world, which tasks include not only establishing a high-quality creative space for the excellent stone sculptors from all over the world, but also making the beauty of Hualen famous to the world, and letting the essence of the world’s stone sculptures be collected in Hualien so as to facilitate Hualien residents to know and appreciate the connotation of the art.
It has been 25 years since Hualien International Stone Sculpture Symposium were held. After passing a quarter of a century, we have seen more clearly the eternity and uniqueness of this art and its value to the land of Hualien. What we persist is more localized and internationalized---which means to use our culture to tell our own stories to the world.