I was invited by the ceramics department of Seoul University to give a lecture to all the year groups of both undergraduate and masters courses. This was something that had been in the diary for months, organised by Kyung Won as she is an alumnus.
It seems the two best ceramics courses in Korea are at Seoul and Hong-Ik Universities. Seoul is very focused on porcelain, tending towards functional ware and I believe Hong-Ik leans more towards sculptural work. I was actually supposed to give a lecture at Hong-Ik as well, however at the last minute they announced they could not pay me, having previously offered an amount, and they were also fairly demanding in what they wanted from me, so in the end I decided one well paid lecture was enough! As it happened, I ended up spending the best part of two days preparing for it whilst here, because I had simply had no time prior to leaving the UK.
It was fantastic to be able to draw on so many films that have been made by Tela Films for me over the past few years – film works very well in this context and actually received applause at the end of each clip! The reason the preparation took so long was because I ended up writing out the whole talk so that Kyung Won would be able to easily translate. I was not keen on presenting in this way; I feel much more confident and able to flow by just standing up and talking. Reading, or trying to follow a script, is really not natural for me. It was also unusual to give a talk that had to be translated. Next time I need to factor in the time the translating takes! But it was very well received and it was a pleasure to be invited. I particularly liked the fact that they transformed one of the main clay studios for the talk by rearranging the seating and pulling down a screen. It felt comfortable and familiar to be giving a lecture in a ceramics studio.
It was nice that three of the exhibiting artists in Made in Korea were present at the talk. Jae Jun Lee, who I met at Collect (he was exhibiting with Gallery LVS) and who subsequently came to stay at The Ceramic House, works at the University in the ceramics department and Bo Kyung Kim is visiting Seoul from Germany where she is currently studying, in addition to Kyung Won Baek of course.
After the lecture all four of us went out for dinner and then back to Kyung Won’s studio, a very well equipped space for porcelain. It turns out that the studio was set up about 10 years ago by a group of graduates from Seoul University, who formed a collective, pooling resources to buy equipment in a rented space. The way it works is that a prospective member can buy into the studio, and if they leave they get their deposit back, and while they are there the rent is low. They supplement the studio income by renting space to amateur potters at weekends and occasionally instead of paying rent a member might buy new equipment.
I tested out the sound recorder Joseph gave me for this trip. In lieu of his being here, I have been instructed to record the sounds of the ceramists working in their studios so that Joseph can use the sounds to create sound pieces for the exhibition.
The idea is similar to a sound piece he made for the first ever exhibition at The Ceramic House in 2011. He was commissioned by HOUSE festival to create a piece called Base Sound :: Sonic Gold. He recorded the sounds of me making work in my studio and used them to make an I-pod piece. Visitors to the exhibition were offered to listen to the sounds of making while looking at the exhibits. I got the hang of the sound recorder I think! And I also filmed Kyung Won and Bo Kyung working for the eventual film that will be made about the whole project.