It has been a great pleasure to dedicate this issue to the arts of Korea, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and South Korea. This has however created an impossible challenge: how to encapsulate the richness of Korea's past and present artistic achievements in one issue of the TAASA Review? Of course, we have not attempted such an unrealistic enterprise. Rather, this issue aims to provide some sense of the range and richness of Korea's cultural heritage and to touch on some of its more contemporary manifestations.
In this we are aided by a major exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum (PHM), Spirit of jang-in: Treasures of Korean Metal Craft, which will be launched late October. Drawing on iconic pieces from a number of Korean museums, its focus is on Korean metal craft but its brief is much wider. As PHM curator Min Jung Kim states in her review of this exhibition, the display of both historical and contemporary examples of metal craft offers an introduction to Korean history and culture and deep insight into the spirit of jang-in - the spirit or essence of Korean craftspeople.
Several other articles in this issue tease out aspects of Korea's rich metal craft tradition. We are pleased to be able to offer an article by Dr Charlotte Horlyck from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University, which summarises some of her recent research on Goryeo period (918-1392 CE) Korean bronze mirrors. Dr Marian Hosking introduces us to the work of Joungmee Do, an Australian-Korean who spectacularly combines traditional techniques with contemporary materials and designs. A striking necklace by another Korean- Australian, held in the PHM, is discussed by Alysha Buss in our regular In the Public Domain feature. Its pared back modern design is belied by the complex traditional processes used in its construction.
Jackie Menzies' article on Late Joseon Buddhist art (18th - 20th centuries), demonstrates a different aspect of Korean artistic achievement. Her survey of paintings found in the Tongdosa temple complex located in south Gyeongsang Province, illustrates the shift from the more refined aristocratic style of the Goryeo period to the more colourful and vibrant compositions found in later popular Joseon Buddhist art. Christina Sumner takes us through some of the intricacies of another distinctly Korean traditional craft, namely bojangi - delightful patchwork and embroidered wrapping cloths which are, as she writes, deeply imbued with Korean aesthetic, cultural and social values. Readers may recall the 1998 exhibition at the Powerhouse which displayed some of these beautiful textiles.
The growing appreciation of the value of traditional cultural products is mirrored by the listing of extraordinary places of cultural or natural significance by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The Korean villages of Hahoe and Yangdong have been recently placed on the World Heritage List and we are fortunate to be given a sense of their enormous historical significance by Joan Domicelj, a heritage consultant who was involved in the listing process. Along with the surviving buildings originally founded in the 14th century, the wooden masks of Hahoe, used in the Hahoe masked dance-drama (still practiced today and an Important Intangible Cultural Property), are the only masks to be named Korean national treasures.
Moving to the contemporary, this issue offers a review of the recent major Australian - Korean art exhibition, Tell Me, Tell Me, from the perspective of Song Mi Sim, a Korean national living in Australia, and a practicing artist and graduate of the National Art School. The exhibition juxtaposed contemporary works with significant historical examples from the 1970's by important artists of both countries. Jointly curated by Glenn Barkley from Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art and Kim Inhye from the National Museum of Contemporary Art (NMOCA) in Seoul, the exhibition moves from the National Art School to open at NMOCA in November.
Finally, we are very pleased in this special Korean issue to take the opportunity to introduce the newly established Korean Cultural Office (KCO) in Sydney. Its Director, Young-soo Kim, outlines its ambitious program of activity, both current and planned, aimed at promoting mutual understanding between Korea and Australia. KOFFIA - the Korean Film Festival in Australia - now works out of the KCO and will launch an expanded range of Korean films at its festivals in Sydney in August and Melbourne in September. Kieran Tully gives us a preview of what can be enjoyed at these festivals, as well as an entertaining overview of the current state of the Korean film industry. I would particularly like to thank Min Jung Kim and Christina Sumner of the PHM for the expert advice and support they provided for this special Arts of Korea issue.
3 Editorial: Arts of Korea - Josefa Green
4 Spirit of jang-in: treasures of Korean metal craft - Min Jung Kim
8 Passage to Paradise: Korean Buddhist painting of the late Joseon period - Jackie Menzies
11 Wishes for harmony, prosperity and long life: Korean bronze mirrors of the Goryeo Kingdom- Charlotte Horlyck
14 On the world heritage list: the Hahoe and Yangdong villages of Korea - Joan Domicelj
17 Considering bojagi: traditional and contemporary Korean wrapping cloths - Christina Sumner
20 Grounded in tradition: the contemporary work of Joungmee Do - Marian Hosking
22 Tell me tell me: Australian and Korean Art 1976 – 2011 - Song Mi Sim
24 Korean cinema today: Korea goes to Hollywood - Kieran Tully
26 Introducing the Korean Cultural Office, Sydney - Young-soo Kim
27 In the Public Domain: a Korean -Australian neckpiece at the Power house Museum - Alysha Buss
28 George Soutter: 1934-2011
29 Collector’s Choice: A Korean Maebyong Vase - Josefa Green
30 Recent TAASA activities
30 TAASA Members’ Diary: September -November 2011
31 What’s On in Australia and Overseas: September -November 2011 - Compiled by Tina Burge