Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Icheon, home of celadon

Today mindy and I took a trip to icheon to see the contemporary Bandal art museum, visit a local pottery studio run by renowned Korean master and go to a Buddhist temple and monastic museum. Icheon is home to the original celadon and the studio we visited was one of the best. He was working at the wheel when we arrived cranking out shapes off the hump. Just a glance around the space was evidence of his skill. 

Double wall vessels with intricate carvings were the stand out pieces. After a brief tour we got to try our hand at the wheel and I felt ready to show off a bit. But it's been about 7 months since I've thrown on the wheel so my skills have eroded. Their local clay was an incredibly creamy white stoneware and I jumped on and made a little round vase that was quite shitty and embarrassing, but next to the master's work I imagine most anyone would look shitty. One of the apprentices told me I needed to come and stay a while to improve my skill. True that. But even after years of practice I doubt I could approach the skill exhibited in the gallery. Mindy and I bought one of his pieces and a few more produced by the studio in his style. The celadon glaze was mouthwatering. The most succulent jade green color that set off the white black and copper slips used to decorate the work. I was in awe and to see the real celadon in the real local community that produces it was a treat of a lifetime for me. To get to see the master at work was even more so. I can only hope to achieve such brilliance in my own work.

In the afternoon we visited a Buddhist woodworking museum/monastery and I must say I was floored when I walked into one of the meditation spaces. A wooden buddha greeted me and in the quiet floor to ceiling shelving sat hundreds of different carved Buddhas all with different expressions on their faces. Each one was impeccably carved and painted and I can imagine sitting before them in meditation would make it all quite alive.

We then traveled to the Bandal Art Museum where we saw some of Korea's best up and coming ceramic artists.

The way that everything was displayed was ultra refreshing since I'm used to the white box. These works were displayed with context, but in a very post modern manner. It made the works stand out and added to the experience of viewing the work.

It was a long day but a very inspiring lesson in an ancient technique with a taste of something new. I'm in love with the celadon and it was nice to get to drive through some of the Korean countryside. Now back in Seoul it's time to find some food.

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