Exhibition explores the versatility of Korean traditional paper

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Exhibition explores the versatility of Korean traditional paper
Karma by Kim Keum Ja. Photo courtesy of the artist.

LONDON.- The Korean Cultural Centre UK presents Hanji: Paper Compositions, an exhibition that explores the possibilities of Korea’s traditional paper, hanji. Organised in collaboration with the Hanji Development Institute in Wonju, Korea, this exhibition introduces the versatility of hanji, and features the work of over 20 artisans whose mastering of various techniques allows them to push the boundaries of their making processes and practices.

Made using the bark of the mulberry tree, hanji is a strong and durable material that has many applications. Following the introduction of paper to Korea from China, hanji was developed across Korea between the 3rd-century and 6th-century. It was historically utilised as a medium for communication, namely as a surface upon which to record important information.

While hanji was originally enjoyed by the royal family and nobility, its uptake became more widespread during the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910) when craftspeople, engaged with making goods for everyday use, took to recycling paper from discarded, old books. The paper products they created ranged from shoes, briefcases, and ornamental objects, to lamps, basins, and even water buckets. The making techniques devised by artisans using hanji, which include jiho, jiseung and jeonji, have been developed over time ever since. The versatility of hanji has seen its use in a range of artistic fields, including in painting, calligraphy, crafts, fashion and architecture, and more recently in heritage conservation and restoration.

Through spotlighting these methods of making, the Hanji: Paper Compositions exhibition aims to establish a dialogue between art and craft practices, all the while revealing the intricacies of constructing paper-based works, in addition to the patience and dedication they demand.

Featured artisans: Cho Byung Guk, Jang Eung Yeol, Jeon Hye Kyoung, Jung Ji Youn, Kang Young Sook, Kim Eun Hee, Kim Han Su, Kim Jung Soon, Kim Keum Ja, Kim Yang Hee, Kim Weon Ja, Lee Bu Ok, Lee Gun Hee, Lee Ji Hyun, Lee Sun Kyung, Oh Myung Hee, Park Chul, Park Dong Sam, Moon Yeon Hee, Moon You Mi, Na Seo Hwan.

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