Travels to South Korea
Travel Bursary 2012 report
I got the funding from the University as a Travel Bursary this year to travel to South Korea and its Capital City Seoul for the period of the Easter holiday. My initial plan for which I received this funding was to execute as much research as possible while visiting different museums and galleries in a short few weeks period with the limited money I had. I reached Seoul on 28th of March and came back to England on 18th of April and in addition to Travel Bursary received, I used my savings from part–time job. As I am a 2nd year Fine Art student and I am extremely fascinated by East Asian traditional and contemporary art, I settled for this trip to get more ideas and inspiration for my current and future Fine Art projects as well as make new networks that are so important in the artists’ career. I chose Easter holiday time for my travel time as the weather is still mild and not too hot and humid and let me experience the most. As I am fascinated by Korean artists’ ability to combine their unique and longstanding Oriental traditions with the high–tech achievements in their modern art pieces I set out to visit as many traditional art and history museums as possible as well as Contemporary art galleries and several other sights such as National Parks, Namsan Tower and others to widen my understanding about the South Korea.
The traditional places I visited included various museums of traditional art as well as museums relating to traditional Korean crafts, customs and South Korean history. For example, I was fascinated to discover the traditional Bukchon village of traditional Korean houses called hanoks hiding in the middle of Seoul and surrounded by modern cityscape. The immense exhibitions in the National Museum of Korea also provided me with the knowledge not only about the conventional Korean art and history but about its neighbour countries and their religion such as Buddhism as well. A visit to Korean War Museum and seeing numerous war planes and tanks made understand Korean history better and how it influenced their mentality. Other traditional art museums I visited included such museums as Traditional Embroidery Museum, The Calligraphy Museum as Pulmuone Kimchi Field Museum.
Being a Fine Art student I was extremely keen on seeing modern Korean art and I visited numerous Contemporary art galleries in Seoul. It is impossible to name all of them as there were the whole districts such as Insandong, Samcheongdong that were full of Contemporary art galleries. I visited such places as NaMU, Gallery Epoque, Seoul Arts Center, Cyart Gallery, Simon Gallery, Gallery Hyundai, Sun Gallery, Gallery Chosun, Hakgojae Gallery, Zemidong Gallery, E. Jung Gallery, Gallery 175 and Seoul Museum of Art. And they are only a few examples of the dozens of galleries I got to visit in Seoul city. There I saw amazing examples of Korean, and sometimes, Western artists’ works. For example, I was amazed by Lleum, Samsung Museum of Art which not only had amazing traditional and contemporary exhibitions but was located in an amazing building itself. I especially enjoyed its temporary exhibition by one of the most famous Korean artists Do Ho Sun called ‘Home Within Home’ and whose works I had a chance to see in Liverpool several years ago. I found this artist’s work extremely interesting and important to me as in his works he expresses his interest in the similar issues as I am. I was also amazed by young Korean artist’s Hanna Kim works that I discovered in Arario gallery and who creates not only sculptures and paintings but stunning traditional animation as well. In addition to these amazing galleries, I managed to see several amazing performances of contemporary Korean musicians and sound artists in Sonju Arts Center, Samcheondong.
Moreover, in conclusion to visiting art – related places, I set out to visit a bit different sights as well in order to widen my comprehension about the South Koreans and their way of living and mentality. For example, I visited an amazing Bukhansan National Park located in Seoul where I could see the tombs of the Korean monarchs and from the special observatory on the top of the mountains the picturesque scenery of a Seoul could be seen. I also visited Namsan Tower – a place every tourist must visit because in the evening I could see amazing view of the whole Seoul as the tower is very tall on located on a high mountain. One more amazing experience was to see a performance by BBoy break dancers called ‘Marionette’ which was a fusion of animation and contemporary dance and which I found very inspiring and interesting. Other interesting and unique places I visited in Seoul include an ancient Myeong-dong Cathedral, Bongeonsa Buddhist Temple, old Gyeonbokgung Palace where the Korean sovereigns lived, Cheonggyecheon river (that was made in place of old motorway). Needless to say that various events and concerts I saw, such as participation in the annual Cherry blossoming festival in Yeouido Island in Seoul also inspired me enormously.
In conclusion, I think that this trip was one of the best and most useful experiences in my life. Even though it required me hours of researching and planning and sometimes being in a foreign country where almost no one speaks English was challenging, I met many wonderful people from all over the world that I am going to stay in touch with, this travel also made me learn dozens of new skills, I improved my Korean language skills and I believe that it also made me more open–minded towards new cultures and traditions that sometimes might be shocking at the first time. I came back from my three weeks long research trip refreshed and full of new ideas which I am ready to share with colleagues, tutors and friends through my works for Fine Art projects the next year and through my other creative activities outside the University curriculum. As I have a big passion for Korea and East Asian countries and their art and culture, this trip only strengthened it and I believe that numerous new transcontinental projects are definitely likely to be created one day.