I've been attempting for years to do some refresher Hanji classes during one of my usually whirlwind visits to Seoul but, due to overseas work commitments and a lack of classes that cater for English speakers, it hasn't been possible. I've had a lot of queries from people wanting to know what classes I took in Seoul earlier this year so I thought that I'd share that information with all of you through my blog.
A few years ago I was introduced to Myong Sook OM, an outstanding Korean Hanji Artist who'd studied Fine Arts for 5 years in New York and she was teaching Hanji in English to expats in Korea. She'd held several exhibitions of her work both Nationally and Internationally and was involved in SIWA (Seoul International Women's Association). Her work is quite unique and I would love to have learnt from her as she was a perfectionist but when I dared to pose the question, " How long would I need to learn ?" I was told that a minimum of 3 months was required and then that wasn't really long enough. Obviously I couldn't have afforded that amount of time from my busy work life and it would have been too expensive to have tried to find somewhere to live for that length of time as well so I put that idea onto my wishlist of what I'd like to do but that was as far as it got.
|Myong Sook OM and her giant lamp|
Then last year I met up with Catherine at Hanji Doori , she's a Korean but has lived in NZ for 10 years so her English is excellent. She was willing to take me on for classes at the Hanji Doori shop in Insadong for whatever length of time I could afford and she'd help me and pass on any tips she has learnt over the years she's been doing Hanji.
This turned out to be a very useful exercise and I attended the shop whenever I could for whatever length of time I wanted. There were other students there as well, all Koreans, but they were friendly and we nodded and gestured to one another about what we were doing. I chose a project I wanted to do and selected some techniques I was unsure about and Catherine, very patiently, helped me through. There were no set classes as such but instead a more relaxed approach to learning traditional hanji techniques.
The other classes I took were at Jonginamoo, a contemporary lighting shop near Buchon Hanok (Village). Up until 12 months ago this shop wouldn't take English speaking students unless they had a translator with them but then Min, a Chinese Korean was employed and he speaks very good English so this shop suddenly became another option. I'd visited it 12 months ago and was blown away with the beautiful work of the shop owner and it was unlike anything I'd seen before as it combines Hanji paper with timber, metal and fabrics. Their classes were held in the back of the shop in a tiny area but I was able to make 5 lamps in the 5 weeks I was there.
|Working on my project|
|Catherine from Hanji Doori and myself|
With these 2 classes I was learning pretty well full-time for 5 weeks. Sometimes I chose to go to just one class and work solidly on my project for hours and other times I'd go to one class in the morning and another in the afternoon. Luckily the shops weren't too far away from one another and both in the Insadong area.
The experience I had brushing up on my skills were invaluable as I learnt some of the latest techniques but I also realised that I already have a lot of skills that I've taught myself over the years and that I'm doing alright.
The fun part was getting all my projects back home to Australia in what ended up being two very large boxes sent through Korea Post. I love the post over there it's so reasonably priced and my parcels were here on my doorstep in Australia within 6 days.
A great trip, a great experience and I'm really fired up to try out lots of new and more experimental Hanji projects now that I'm back in my studio.