For the fifth year, the Korean Craft and Design Foundation put on a splendid show at Collect. As in previous years, the stall showcased a range of crafts – from jewellery and lacquer to ceramics and more – with this year the theme being “Meditative Art”. The dramatic ceramic piece entitled Sea by Lee Eun dominated the whole of Room 3 at the back of the Saatchi (KCDF’s seemingly regular spot) and greeted you from afar.
Lacquer master Chung Hae-cho was present during the early days of the exhibition, and he was persuaded to have some of his work exhibited in a Korean craft show that is to be held in Edinburgh in July this year. His work as already been collected by the British Museum and the V+A.
Another artist whose work was causing much admiration was Lee Jong-min: his intricately incised pure white vases which can take up to two months to decorate after they emerge from the kiln: all that delicate tracery is hand-carved with tools used by dentists.
The Craft Scotland stall, situated next to KCDF, included some stunning work by glass artist Choi Keeryong, with assistance from jeweller Won Misun who inlaid the surface air-bubbles with gold, making the vases look like the sky at night.
Upstairs, Sikijang was making its first appearance at Collect. For me, the buncheong ceramics of Jung Jae-hyo were the highlight of their stall. Jung’s pottery is situated in Yangsan-si, just north of Busan. His tea-bowls have an earthiness far removed from the refined celadons of Goryeo, having a chunkiness and tactile quality enhanced by their irregular shape and coarsely incised decoration, while his square-bottomed bowl with white decoration, like field patterns receding into the distance, was a source of endless fascination.
Sikijang also had work by leather craftsman Kim Jun-su, whose bowls were made out of thin strips of leather, lacquered and coiled together; and it was good to see again the fine metal-work jars of Cheon Woo-seon on show – he has previously been represented by KCDF.
Ceramics specialist Gallery LVS is a regular exhibitor at Collect. This year they were spotlighting the skills of artists based in Icheon, one of the main centres of ceramics activity in Korea.
Dominating the entrance to their stall was a collection of large, waist-high, vases. As goodwill ambassador for the fine county of Sancheong, Gyeongsangnam-do, I was pleased to note that the mix of clays for these vases included some from “my” county.
But the highlight of the display was a golden-coloured celadon moon jar by Seo Kwang-soo, displayed in front of a spectacular yellow granite wall hanging by Jung Kwang-sik.
On a side wall a similar green granite piece was displayed above the more traditional green-coloured celadon ware by Yoo Kwang-yul.
I leave you with a few extra photographs from the three main stalls covered above. Splendid stuff.