London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Sabal: Playing with Fire – works by Shin Chul and Kim Byung Yeoul, at Han Collection

Date: Friday 3 February - Thursday 23 February 2023
Han Collection | 33 Museum Street | Bloomsbury | London WC1A 1LH | | [Map]

Tickets: Free | More info here
Han Collection - Sabal exhibition

This exhibition of Korean Tea Bowls will demonstrate the beautiful and diverse forms of Korean ‘Sabal’, as well as the naturally extravagant hues of the hoeryeong glaze.

Two artists will participate in this exhibition. Kim Byung-yeoul – a seasoned professor in ceramic art and craft, and Shin Chul – a master potter of teabowls, whom we have exhibited before at Collect Fair 2020 and 2021. Both potters present their own style and interpretations of the hoeryeong glaze – a glazing style which finds it origins some time during the Joseon Dynasty of Korea (1392-1897).

Kim Byung Yeoul: Artist Statement

Tea bowls by Kim Byung Yeoul (Photography by Ye Studio)

For this exhibition, I moved to Icheon, the production area of ceramics, and began conceiving a different world of works – coloured white porcelain. Under the theme of ‘bowl’ or sabal, one of Korea’s representative ceramics, this new world of work returns to its origins, containing the feeling of nature.

I present bowls with a story to be told, harking to tradition, yet reinterpreted as modern, and the constant changes of season. ‘Modernity’ itself can be interpreted in many ways. However, when I think of modernity, I think of the beauty of the four seasons in nature, changes in colour and the ever-changing weather.

In order to express various colors, glaze was twice, three times, and sometimes four times applied to the sabal and fired. However, often getting stuck to the hot plate and drying, I  failed repeatedly. Breaking down countless fired bowls, my creation process was built upon a technique of trial and error.

All of my works were fired around five times in a wood-fire kiln, accompanied by the hot mid-summer heat, and hard work. While preparing for this exhibition, I felt I was still lacking somewhat. It is this self-doubt which has shaped me into the person I am today. Through my own lacking, I am determined to devote myself as a potter who studies and strives for even better.

Shin Chul: Artist Statement

Tea bowls by Shin Chul (Photography by Ye Studio)

Ninety-five percent of South Korea’s ceramic artifacts are bowls. The existence of a large number of artifacts also means that many have been made. It is said that these bowls were used for various functions – from rice bowls of ordinary people, to tea bowls of the gods – and were produced and used in large quantities for the purpose of holding something. In addition, each bowl has a different size, shape, and colour depending on its use.

Within this field, there are countless stories. In the past, the Japanese were immersed in the “beauty of discovery” and made history for searching and collecting Joseon dynasty wares. What artist Shin Chul has always considered while creating his countless bowls, is the form and colour of “a bowl that is comfortable to contain” and “a bowl that looks comfortable when something is contained within it”. Therefore, the idea of the bowl, or sabal, itself is always the center of his formulation. In addition to this, Shin Chul’s bowls have always pursued colours based on nature – restraining from the incorporation of exaggerated colouration.

One of the results of his pursuit is Hoeryeong-yu. This glaze uses ash that can only be obtained after burning rice straw and pine trees without the use of mechanical and chemical processes. The combination of the basic colour of the carefully selected clay and this Hoeryung-yu, results with each firing producing a unique piece in the wood-fired kiln.

This Yo-byeon or “unpredictable colour” is the most attractive feature of Hoeryeong bowls, as various modifiers can be attached to each bowl completely distorting any expected outcome of the firing process. Ceramic Artist Shin Chul considers the Hoeryeong-yu sabal the most in contact with nature. As well as the materials obtained from the natural world around him, the process of collecting and creating is a great attraction for him. It is this feature of Hoeryeong which allows him to “naturally” leave the unpredictable colour development process to the fire and always expect the unexpected.

(Translations by Thomas Clifton | Photography by Ye Studio)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.