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Exhibition visit – Collect 2018

Lee Eun: The Sea (2017) / Park Hong-gu: What's Left series (2016)
Lee Eun: The Sea (2017) Glazed porcelain on canvas; Park Hong-gu: What’s Left series (2016). Burned and lacquered wood (photo: Lloyd Choi for KCDF)

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.

Chung Hae-cho's lustrous lacquer-work entitled Rhythm of the Black (2017)
Chung Hae-cho’s lustrous lacquer-work entitled Rhythm of the Black (2017) 10 x 54 x 87 cm (photo: KCDF)

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.

Kiln-formed glass by Choi Keeryong
Kiln-formed glass by Choi Keeryong, with gold inlay by Won Misun (photo: Won Misun)

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.

Kim Jun-su: Slice of Life (2017)
Kim Jun-su: Slice of Life (2017) – Coiled lacquered leather

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.

Cheon Woo-seon: Fill and Empty 0217 (2017)
Cheon Woo-seon: Fill and Empty 0217 (2017). Brass, Copper, Iron

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.

Jars by Seo Kwang-su, Yu Yong-cheol and Kwak Kyung-tae
Moonjars by Seo Kwang-su (porcelain, left) and Yu Yong-cheol (buncheong + sancheong clay, right) with three jars / bowls by Kwak Kyung-tae (onggi + sancheong clay, talyeomjil)

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.

Celadon ware by Yoo Kwang-yul with Jung Kwang-sik granite wall-hanging
Celadon ware by Yoo Kwang-yul with Jung Kwang-sik granite wall-hanging

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.


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