Once again one of the featured craftsmen at the Korea Craft and Design Foundation stall at Collect 2015 was lacquerware artist Chung Haecho, who on his first appearance in 2013 had work collected by the Victoria & Albert Museum, and whose work greeted you first as you approached the stall. But this year it was the turn of furniture designer Cho Yong-won, who specialises in incorporating the imperfections in the wood he uses into his designs. One of his boldly-coloured tea trays had a red dot on it – again the purchaser was rumoured to be the V&A.
Sitting next to the fluid lines of Chung Haecho’s lacquerware bowls were the ceramics of Bae Se-jin, looking arid and parched. Bae’s work looks as if it is made from cement – an effect achieved by mixing ground stone into his clay before creating ceramic bricks from which he builds his vases.
Another welcome returnee on the stall was glass artist Kim Joon-yong. This is a craft that is still underdeveloped in Korea, but Kim’s pieces have a luminous quality that makes them highly desirable. It was also good to see again the giant buncheong pieces of Lee Kang-hyo (visible top left in the above installation view) and the mother-of-pearl work of Hwang Sam-yong, both of whom exhibited at Tent London last year. Having work exhibited for the first time was the late Jeon Seong-keun (1959-2015) whose exquisite pure white vase in an elaborately carved wooden lacquer case was placed carefully in a corner of the space where it was less likely to get damaged. It would later find a new home in the British Museum.
Another regular exhibitor at Collect is ceramics house Gallery LVS. Once again they presented an enticing mix of contemporary ceramics with clean lines alongside modern buncheong-inspired pieces. (It was impossible to get a photo of the latter pieces as the staff insisted on congregating round them…)
On the top floor of the Saatchi Gallery was “COLLECT Open” where young designers could rent space. Kang Soojin’s investment had paid off, with her large mixed meadia wall-hanging of silk, jute, cotton and wood having sold early in the exhibition.
Next to her was Kim Seoyoon, who had been part of the Korea Craft and Design Foundation last year. Her architecturally-sculpted bronze tableware blazed like fire in the spotlights, and she deserves to do well.
COLLECT 2015 was at Saatchi Gallery, 8 – 11 May 2015.