|▲ Ceramic artist Seohu Kim Sun-heui|
Ceramic art uses clay to make beautiful potteries through hands and in high temperature. Korean ceramic art has developed from earthenware after the New Stone Age to pottery, celadon and white porcelain as time went by. They are melted with our ancestor’s sentiments, customs and religions. Today, those who are passing down this tradition are rarely found while many are into reproduction of the tradition. Ceramic artist Kim Sun-heui learned ‘panjangjil taryum’, a traditional Korean earthenware making method practiced only in Jeolla Province, and is making higher quality ceramic rice jars with symbolic patterns and the energy of the year.
Ceramic art comes by chance
She was studying western painting at university when she happened to take a part time job related to ceramic patterns. She entered into this part of the world on recommendation of ceramic art teacher Ilsan Kim Gyu-hyun and wrote a master’s thesis on ‘Study of Symbolism of Blue and White Ware Patterns in late Joseon Dynasty’. She learned ‘panjangjil taryum’ from Kim Gyu-hyun after 2001 and started to make rice jars. She also learned customs and history of ceramic artists after the Liberation of Korea and secured the decorum which all ceramic artists should follow.
Learning ‘panjangjil taryum’
A Korean earthenware making method ‘taryum’ are divided into three types: ‘hwandansik taryum’ was practiced in Gyeonggi, Chungcheong and middle Gangwon provinces and uses jiljaegi to build the wall one by one and make the shape by tapping the wall with dogae and cart by pulling up the soil of the wall or spreading; the second type is practiced in Gyeongsang Province with similar method like ‘hwandansik taryum’ but it build the wall at once like spiral in thinner and longer jiljaegi followed by the shaping on dogae and suse; ‘panjangjil taryum’ was practiced in Jeolla Province and instead of jiljaegi, it uses wide, thin and long panjangjil to build the wall up. Panjangjil is also called chetbaqui for it has impression like panjangjil erected according to its shape on the bottom with che mom on top of it. Kim said that she learned panjangjil taryum from Ilsan Kim Gyu-hyun and developed it into making rice jars. She said that the soil droops when tapped and it requires a lot of labor due to the weight of the jar. In this respect, Kim is one of those who are passing down our traditional methods and beauty through their own works.
Recognition for developing traditional rice jars
Rice became the staple food after the New Stone Age and naturally rice jars were produced and used widely. The Gyeongju National Museum displays large jars made in the New Stone Age and the ones with combed patterns are regarded to be used for saving grains. Kim has been focusing on rice jars that originated from combed patterned earthenware and panjangjil taryum so that she could enliven the combed patterns as natural as possible with appropriate thickness. This requires a considerable amount of time and effort but Kim has stuck to this method with passion and determination and has built her recognition in the field. Though people rarely use rice jars nowadays, Kim’s rice jars are playing their role to spread Korea’s traditional beauty and excellent technique to the world.
Value of symbolic patterns drawn by hands
Kim showed a talent in painting from her childhood and majored in western painting at university and studied traditional patterns at a graduate school. She has deep cultural insight on patterns and has mastered various patterns from water drops to auspicious energy patterns which made her possible to realize the patterns of the energy of the year. Drawing patterns on rice jars has a decorative purpose but the energy released from a certain pattern is more important as it decides which good energy comes into the house.
Seohu runs various ceramic activities
Kim is running various ceramic activities customized for each age group. The activities are designed to raise interest in ceramic art in daily life. The activities can help learners increase concentration, power balance, creativity and traditional culture. Kim has worked for the last 25 years but started to display her works from only 5 to 6 years ago. Every single process of ceramic making is important: hand shaping – bisque firing – patterning – firing again. Whenever she fell into a slump, there always came a help and a support from the people around her and she could not have been who she is today without their help and support. Recognizing her workmanship, Kim Mi Hyo Gallery invited her to have displayed her works in Seoul, Busan, Incheon, China and Dubai. In 2019, she is scheduled for art fairs in Hong Kong, Dubai and Guangzhou in China as well as a Korean artist invitational exhibition in Chile. She says that she will give part of her energy to fostering her pupils while exerting to spread excellence of Korean rice jars to the world.
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