‘Expressing my color through training
even if it takes time’- my life and the process of
baking earthenware seem somewhat alike.
Q1: We heard that while you based your work around Seoul, you have studied in the United Kingdom and that that experience has brought in many changes to your work. What kind of change came from that experience and what influence did it have on your work?
A1: At first, I approached this work with the idea that I’m just spinning a spinning wheel and making dishes. However, as I began to immerse myself into work, I started out with the question, “What can I make with soil?” and started experimenting with the materials by trying to make various things. As my exploration with soil deepened, I asked myself the fundamental question- “How did humans come to use soil, use clay to make earthenware?” During my study in England, the London V&A Museum (Victoria and Albert Museum) was working on a project that unraveled the historical background and use of ceramics created before the 90s into a more modernized view, and I was greatly inspired by the project. As time went on, interest in the form of traditional pottery (earthenware) arose along with exploration of physical properties, and I became interested in the work method of reinterpreting tradition into a more modernized fashion.
Q2: Some of your works such as and portray ideas on elements of nature such as water, earth, sky and wind. Were they the inspiration for your work?
A2: I grew up in the city, and although I remember going hiking with my father when I was young, I didn’t have any special appreciation for nature back then. After I entered college, I started my morning by climbing the school mountain almost every day, and I think I got inspired treading on the ground at that time. Although the roadside was just ten steps back, I liked the fact that I can step on soil and smell the woods if I strolled in just a little bit and I thought about the comfort that had brought me. I have admiration for elements of nature such as the earth, soil, sky, and the sea because they are creations that cannot be created by mankind. I am pondering on how to unravel these feelings, with what kind of material and context, and I think that these processes build me up. The trajectory of my work now is on how to make my life and work resemble each other. That’s why I try to bring in a lot of things like color and texture from such nature-related inspiration and include a mixture of patterns and colors that are brought up by chance during the production process as metaphorical expressions of areas of nature that humans cannot control.
Blue collection - Hojung Kim
Earthy - Hojung Kim
Q3: Looking at your work, it seems like you are bringing in your surroundings, colors, and interrelationships into your work. Please explain your process of embodying conceptual elements into real materials and forms.
A3: Usually I get inspired throughout my everyday life, by the images and writing I had normally collected, by the day I have experienced, and my surrounding environment and space, but when I proceed with my work, I start by touching the soil before the design. It is more comfortable for me to just take the soil out and try mixing and modelling it when working. Since the color of the soil is different before and after it is baked, I proceed by trying and baking the soil first, discovering the coincidental combination of the mixture of color, and then correcting the final product. In the case of the Qi, the form is inspired by historical objects and created through the consideration and adaptation of scale or ratio.
The method of which to connect the relationship between form and concept is derived from the concept of ‘earthenware’, that it is ‘something that can be contained,’ and the thoughts regarding the process created due to the method, the rotation, and the centrifugal force made by spinning the spinning wheel. While it is possible to purposefully choose color during the work process, irregular patterns are created through the process, and this also happens in our lives. It blends into space to create harmony, but there are times when such things cannot be controlled. I am relating such areas of harmony and disharmony to the function and form of ceramics (earthenware).
I want to be a creator who fills others’ spaces with beauty and gives comfort to others.
Q4: What are your thoughts on creating things with your hands, on dealing with properties?
A4: I think a lot about ‘why I am making things.’ Although it is a fundamental question, it’s the question I ask the most. In the end, I am concerned on how and what I can make to contribute. There are various kinds of authors, artists, and creators in this world. There are those who deal with social issues, and those who work by revealing themselves or destructive elements in their work, but I want to be a creator who fills others’ spaces with beauty and gives comfort to others.
I think beauty is an energy that comes from trusting yourself and being truthful. I will strive to become an artist who is honest about the relationship between work, myself, and with others, and an artist who constantly explores and studies the materials I use.
Q5: As you work, it seems like you will be influenced by the characteristics of the field of crafts, such as how the artists’ hand and technique become a big part of the expression and completeness of the work. Please share with us the kind of trial and error you experience during your work.
A5: I think soil is a material that generates a lot of trial and error. Although it must be the same with other fields of craft, there are many different types of soil, and you need to endure with the fact that things are always going to break. At first, I also reproached myself a lot. In the end, what’s important is the relationship between me and the material, and I need to figure out how far I can acquire the material, and figure out whether the soil is the type of soil I can accomplish what I want to accomplish with. Each soil has different colored pieces and have different reaction temperature, and so if it does not fit just a little, it would create cracks and the chemical reactions or various other factors change depending on the combination of the material. Even if it is the same white clay, we must figure out things from the start every single time the environment changes because the viscosity and the color changes depending on which environment the clay is from. In crafts, deepened results are gained through time and skill. To make something that is whole, it takes a lot of experimentation, failure, and repetitive practice.
Q6: What do you find the most interesting these days?
A6: I am currently having a time of organization. I started living independently by myself lately, and I found I had 10 years’ worth of things when I moved all my luggage. I saw my closet, and in it were the preferences and sizes of that time, and I could see my change process. I think this time became an opportunity for me to look back on myself. This was thanks to the extra time that I had due to Corona’s influence, which I could have missed if I had continued to travel between London and Seoul due to the intense inertia of life. My house and my workshop are currently my all. I face the image of myself that I longed for and contemplate on what I have been missing. I look forward to the new work that will be created in an area that has become more like me after assimilating and organizing everything.
Q7: What do you most value in work and in life?
A7: What I value most is to find the definition of truth and beauty. I try to hold my internal balance by looking at the object as itself, by waiting with trust even if it takes time, by being content, and by praying. On days in which there is a lot in my mind or on days in which I can’t freely move my hands, I try to have some time just for myself, and one method through which I do this is meditation. Through the time I take breathing in and out, I give space to my brain and my mind, and get some time alone. As things can only be filled if only it is emptied, you can accept new things only by taking away things of the past.
There is a lot in common between me and soil. ‘Expressing my color through training even if it takes time’- my life and the process of baking earthenware seem somewhat alike. In the end, the earthenware which has endured various processes in the hot fire displays its true beauty. I want to be like my earthenware, through a life which pursues true beauty.
Q8: What are your future plans?
A8: There was an exhibition scheduled from March until September this year in the UK. Although Korea thinks about dishes when it comes to earthenware and ceramics, in England, there is a higher level of media awareness and a lot more exhibition opportunities. Although I had planned to come back after working at my studio back in London from March to June, preparing for the exhibition, but I had to reorganize my schedule because of the Corona Virus. For the time being, I plan to work in Korea and send off my exhibition work to England. Regarding my work, I would like to expand from the current 'Flow' with combinations of various shapes and colors. I want to expand my domain by various drawings, collections, records, and travels, and proceed with work with a deeper understanding of materials. I am also planning to conduct a workshop in the form of a project and create a venue to communicate with the public.
As things can only be filled if only it is emptied, you can accept new things only by taking away things of the past.
Artist : Hojung Kim
Editor : Jeongin Kim
Translator : Esther Koo
Photographer : Jeongin Kim
Director : Yeonjae Yoon