Hello! A lot of time has passed since I last wrote. Spring 2016 turned to Summer, to Autumn, then Winter, then Spring (and then almost all over again…).
During this time I have returned to the UK but, that shouldn’t fool you – I have not forgotten Korea! In fact, I’ve spent a lot of my time looking through my ridiculous amount of photos and trying to distil all these experiences to tell others about Korea in an exhibition I have coming next February. ^-^
Its been a long process and one that I have been lucky to draw on my museum curating experience to create. I’m still in the process of it all (and would love suggestions!) but here’s what I’ve learnt so far.
I am in East Asia. It’s Spring. Yes, it’s that magical time of year again:
Apart from, not if you go to the festival a week early. As I learned the hard way….
I wanted to visit the premium cherry blossom viewing location in all of the peninsula and so after many inquiries with friends and the dear internet, I made the trek to Jinhae (an hour by bus west from Busan and a bargain at only 5000won each way).
I had heard and seen a lot of images of Jinhae and I greedily wanted some for myself too so I thought that it would be a wise move to go a week early and avoid the crowds during the official festival.
This was a mistake, do not repeat this mistake.
Winter started with an abrupt punctuality that I had never experienced before. The very first official day of winter it snowed on cue and I played British institution ‘The Snowman’. Perfect.
I thought that this may be a fluke but it happened once more. On the Spring Equinox, I went outside and soaked up the first day of new season. A warm breeze, chattering of birds and groups of elated bees filled the air. Spring is here in Korea, at last, and I am so happy.
Who / what / where is Sintanjin I hear you ask? Well, Sintanjin is the area in which I spend most of my time here in Korea. Until a few years ago it was recognised as a separate town to Daejeon but was incorporated to make the outline of Daejeon stretch from an almost circle to a strange letter ‘d’ shape.
My fascination with spaces, real and imaginary, stems from the moment my art teacher, Katy, introduced me to the work of Rachel Whiteread.
Writeread’s Turner-prize winning piece was called ‘House’ and in this piece she solidified empty space, the memories of the home and the lives that it once contained. It captivated me. The idea that the moments that create life can be contained in the space between things is something that I regularly think about and sometimes cannot help but photograph. It was in my last trip to Seoul that I found myself peering into these semi-private spaces.
These are the images and the moments that I took.
I’ve always counted magpies. Sometimes I actually believe that if I see only one my day is doomed. Sometimes I think about their lives and if there is only one, has it really lost it’s partner? Maybe I’m being melodramatic.
I came across a statue a few weeks ago which depicted my favourite Korean story called ‘Magpie Bridge’. Well, really, its an adaption of a Chinese story (a similar festival called Qixi is celebrated there). It goes like this…
Kimchi. The wonderful marmite of Korea. I don’t think I love it and often I absolutely hate it. However, living in Korea means that I eat it at least five times a week. Lunch is a great time to talk and the conversation often turns to food. More specifically, ‘Lauren, do you like Kimchi?’ is a question that I have to answer with a non-offensive ‘yes, it’s ok’ on a regular basis.
Though they say ‘the hills are high’,
all hills are still below heaven.
By climbing, climbing, climbing more,
there is no peak that cannot be scaled.
But the man who never tried to climb;
he says indeed ‘the hills are high’.
– Yang Saeon 양 새온 (1517 – 1583)
I was first introduced to Korean sijo poetry (which is pronounced more like ‘she-jo’ in Continue reading