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Exhibition visit: Korean crafts and design at Collect 2014

The 2014 Collect Catalogue
The 2014 Collect Catalogue (photo: LKL)

On the front cover of the catalogue for Collect 2014, the annual fair organised by the Crafts Council, is an intriguing shell-shaped metal sculpture – part Slinky, part oil-lamp, and very beautiful.

Kim Hyunju: Have a Dream III
Kim Hyunju: Have a Dream III. Sterling silver, brass, 300 x 370 x 150mm. Photo KC Studio. At KCDF.

Wandering around to gallery number 3 on the ground floor, you come to the stall hosted by the Korea Craft and Design Foundation. And you discover that the item is by Korean metal artist Kim Hyunju (김현주). Kim is known for her sculptural oil-lamps, which often include mother-of-pearl, but since the recent unexpected death of her mother she has also produced a number of stunning urns as a memorial.

Kim Hyunju: Pray, Remember
Kim Hyunju: on right: Pray I, II (copper, nickel, ottchil, mother of pearly); left: Remember 02, 04 (brass, aluminium, mother of pearl). At KCDF (photo: LKL)

Elsewhere on the KCDF stall there were works by artists familiar from last year: Chung Hae-cho (정해조), whose lacquerware has been collected by the V&A; and textile artist Chang Yeonsoon (장연순), who also has work at the V&A.

Kim Joon-yong: Green Flower
Kim Joon-yong: Green Flower. Glass, blown, coldworked. 290 x 290 x 270 mm. Photo: Choi Soonyung. At KCDF.

The work that most caught LKL’s attention were Kim Joonyong’s (김준용) flower-shaped glass bowls which seemed to glow in the light. The effect is reinforced by the use of soda glass to enhance the vibrancy of colour. Also generating some buzz were the stylish silver pots inspired by Korean water bottles from the 10th Century, by Jung Youngkuwan (sic. 정영관), and very tactile tableware from Royal College of Art graduate Park Joo-hyung (박주형).

Marbled Celadon Jar. Gwang Yeol Yu
Marbled Celadon Jar. Gwang Yeol Yu. LVS Gallery

One floor up, Gallery LVS were exhibiting traditional and contemporary ceramics in a variety of styles. The display was divided in two, one half focusing on more traditional styles, the other less constrained by the past. For me, the work that most stood out was the marbled celadon jars produced by Yu Gwang-yeol (유광렬) – a technique known as yeollimun (or yeonrimun, depending on your romanization preference – 연리문). That was certainly where my own lottery winnings would have been spent.

On the top floor, two Korean artists were collaborating in the Project Space – square glass panels undulating as if in a gentle breeze, but in fact urged into motion by tiny electric-powered pins. My mobile phone tried to capture some of the action.

Most of the photos below are courtesy of the Korean Craft and Design Foundation and Gallery LVS, though a couple are mine.

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