The China Zuni– 2014 (Yuyao) National Exhibition of Collections of Chinese Penjing Collectors will be held on October 31- November 2, 2014 in Yuyao City, near Shanghai, China. I was honored to be invited to attend and help with the complicated judging of the most important penjing exhibition in China for 2014.
The exhibition opens to the public on Friday while the complicated and detailed judging began on Wednesday morning at 8am. There were a total of ten judges, eight from China and Taiwan and two foreigners, Tony Tickle from England and me representing the United States. We were bused to the event and had a meeting to explain the complicated process. Fortunately, the 14 page “Evaluation Scheme” was in both Chinese and English, but we still had questions which needed to be answered. Lots of regulations, no discussing penjing with other judges and more.
There were supervisors watching us at all times. Everyone was given a clipboard with the judging forms plus a hat and even an umbrella because of the impending rain. It sprinkled for a few minutes, but did it not slow anyone down. Each of the 41 judging pages needed to be signed and dated by each artist. I believe all the scores will be published and displayed to the public and artists can dispute scores, but have not seen this yet and hope I don’t enjoy that experience.
There were 121 individual penjing to be point judged, plus about a dozen more. We had a few meetings, one to discuss a beautiful two part rock planting of Japanese five-needle pine (6 trees by the way, and beautiful) which was simply placed on the display table. It looked great, but some judges inquired about the missing tray because the “basin and basin appearance quality” constituted for 6 points.
It was interesting that if a tree had metal wires a minimum of 5 points must be deducted from the score. As we were beginning to judge some last minute trees were being “installed” on the tables.
The exhibition was held at a junior high school in the track, a large one. Each penjing was displayed on a custom made table with one background for two trees on each side. The white backgrounds had a subtle scene printed which was effective for some of the trees. The trees were on two different levels and each fit inside the background, except for a few extra long branches. All the trees were displayed on the huge oval track while the center field was empty.
Around noon the judges were rounded up and had lunch together in two groups, vegetarians and meat eaters. Then we returned back to work to complete the judging process. Most of us finished up this part around 4 pm. We were then taken back to the hotel for dinner and returned at 7pm to watch the final tabulations, then go outside in the dark to see the top three winning trees. Finally, after another meeting it was decided to allow the calculated winners to be accepted. Back inside we all needed to sign again, twice. By the time we returned to the hotel it was 10 pm.
On Thursday the opening ceremony and party will be held in the evening. The exhibition opens to the public on Friday. More photos and interesting details to follow on the opening ceremony, demonstrations, sales area and stone display. But this is an exciting important event and I’m honored to be a small part of it.