Since winning the Loewe Craft Prize in 2022, textile artist Dahye Jeong has been at the forefront of redefining ancient Korean weaving practices and enlightening the world to the heavenly possibilities of horsehair.
Thus with the announcement of Jeongs first solo show outside of South Korea taking place at this years London Craft Week, it brought with it great excitement and anticipation. After enticing us with the display of her award winning vessel ‘A Time for Serenity’ at COLLECT earlier this year, Jeong returns to London once again with a collection of intricate horsehair works. On show at Cromwell Place Mind, Hand and Time is presented by Soluna Fine Art, a leading gallery for craft based in Seoul.
Image: selection of works by Dahye Jeong, 2022. Image courtesy of Soluna Fine Art. Above image: selection of works by Dahye Jeong, 2022. Image courtesy of Soluna Fine Art.
Originating from the small island of Jeju, located off the furtherest southern part of the Korean Peninsula, an area that’s identity is so strongly tied to its natural landscape- the sea dan and the Halla mountain. Jeong began her artistic endeavour completing a BA in Fine Art: Sculpture at Jeju National University, and subsequently studying an MFA in Traditional Textile Crafts at the Korean National University of Cultural Heritage.
But the island of Jeju has always sustained a sacred space within Jeong. The natural elements symbolic of the strength in both the landscape and of its female community, are grounded within her practice today . Whilst her affinity with textiles too has travelled with her from childhood, through the nostalgic memories she holds of watching her parents establish and run a natural dye workshop.
Taking inspiration from ancient Korean headwear that were worn by men in the Joseon Dynasty between 1392 and 1910. Jeong studied the art of traditional craft techniques with horsehair. Together with reference to historic Korean weaving; she developed a new, uniquely crafted approach to working with this material. From her studio in Seoul, Jeong carefully weaves the strands of horsehair to create a textile that is so light to touch and almost invisible in sight. Taking on various forms, such as; vessels, baskets, jewellery and accessories. What appears such a delicate fibre, has the ability to produce such strong, unbreakable structures. A mirror of the strength that runs deep within the landscape of Jeju and mind of Jeong.
Image: selection of works by Dahye Jeong, 2022. Image courtesy of Soluna Fine Art.
The exhibit takes its name from the three core components that encompass the creation of the artists craft. Each vessel Jeong creates is a testament to her patience and resilience. Her mental and physical strength to endure the process of making. A process that is so incredibly slow, requiring deep concentration and determination. Whilst the vessels retain a simple structure, authentic to traditional Korean forms, to achieve this timeless design Jeong must uphold the highest level of precision throughout the woven process. To rush the creation and to loose concentration would result in a less than perfect form.
To capture the exquisite craftsmanship of Jeongs work through words can not do the justice to which it deserves, but to be with the work and to see those finely woven patterns with light seeping through the glossy, translucent surface in their physical form. Will transcend you to a place ethereal wonder. Jeongs works are a true representation of textiles that evoke both peace and power in equal measure.
Alongside Mind, Hand and Time The South Korean Pavilion presents a second display of Korean Weaving, taking place at the Korean Cultural Centre UK in the heart of the city, beside Trafalgar Square. Presented in collaboration with Soluna Fine Art, Light of Weaving: Labour- Hand-Hours, is a group exhibit showcasing six female weavers from South Korea who all work with authentic woven techniques with materials such as horsehair, wood and glass. Dahye Jeong will feature alongside Daeyong Jo, Byungjin So, Dongsik Kim, Kyouhong Lee and Jung Kwon. The exhibit pays respect to the time and patience given by the craftsperson and their deep devotion to one singular material.
Mind, Hand and Time is on display at Cromwell Place between the 9 - 14 May.
Light of Weaving: Labour-Hand-Hours at the Korean Culture Centre UK will run from the 10-14 May. Entrance to both exhibits is free and no booking is required.
Guest edited by Katerina Knight