Intimacy & Crafts - Contemporary Objects by South Korean makers

An exhibition at Mr Kitly gallery in May 2015.

Curated by Kenny Yong-soo Son

‘…people hang their pictures and paintings high up on walls, but they place their objects for everyday use, close to them and take them in their hands.’ - (Bernard Leach)

Intimacy & Crafts is an exhibition that looks at exploring a particular kind beauty in crafts, beauty that is often identified with use, the beauty of intimacy. This beauty of intimacy is one that comes from the outlet of expression from the makers themselves, hand to the object. Machined processes cannot replace the craft of the hand and the diminishing hours of labour often result in products becoming heartless objects that lack significance and longevity. As Kenny’s ongoing initiative in introducing and sharing Korean culture and tradition, he has invited 5 contemporary artists from Korea in sharing this idea of intimacy in crafts through their very own practice. 

- Kenny Yong-soo Son

Notes on the makers:

Jeong-yong Han
Ju-byeong (carafe or literally translated to wine/spirit bottle); Hwa-byeong (Vase or literally translated to flower bottle/pot); Yeon-juk (Container for ink water)

These are everyday objects that can be used with a sense of intimacy in mind of the user. These works are all made with an intention to keep the characteristics and aesthetics of the Korean white porcelain of the Joseon Era (13th-18th century). Ceramic works of the Joseon Era are considered to have a sense of silence /calmness. This is an aspect of high importance to Han when he works with white porcelain. In the making process, the outer surface of the works have been hand carved but done unforceful and thoughtlessly, just following the hand movements of the downward motion. To de-accentuate the sharpness of the lines, a type of glaze has been used which portrays good shine and thickness.

Kenny Yong-soo Son
Rulers are made using a technique called Ibsa. IBSA is a traditional Korean metal-craft technique that involves using a chisel and a chasing hammer to create narrowly spaced indentations across the entire surface of the object in horizontal and diagonal directions. As a result, the surface becomes somewhat similar to woven or intertwined fabric. Onto this surface, using gold, silver, bronze and or/odong (95% copper & 5% gold) thread (0.18-0.2mm thickness) can be inlaid into the indentations created by the chisel. 

In-hwa Lee & Deok-ho Kim
The works are produced in two different styles, one utilizing the transparency of the white porcelain and the other portraying the natural characteristics of the white porcelain. The work with transparency are firstly thrown on the wheel and then followed by carving the work to create a thickness of 1-2mm in order to achieve a sense of subtleness in the transparency. In regards to the patterned work, the different patterns are made using masking tape and the surface is sprayed to achieve the difference in tone and texture. The inside of the vessels are glazed and the outside sand-polished. The bowls are objects that form together to create a set. Each set is made using the same shapes that fall within each other. The consistencies in sizes are achieved using a measuring stick whilst throwing. They are then carved using the curved shaped carving tool. The last process is to apply a custom-made glaze, as the works are then reduction fired at 1280 degrees.

Hyun-seok Sim
When asked if he wanted to speak about his works or practice, he replied that the works were measuring scoops and they were made of silver.

Seo-yoon Kim
With Kim’s works, the process is very much self-explanatory with how the work looks. The two works are folded and bent.

Kim usually works according to the characteristics of the specific material rather than starting with a set concept or an image. For e.g. of the works on display, Kim has utilised the natural tension and strength of brass and assembled the works together with minimal use of heat joining techniques.


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