Jinju Silk Residency

Mayor Kyoo-il Jo (right) with Initiator Chunghie Lee (center) and further participants of the Jinju Silk Residency
Korean Master Hyunsuk Kang teaching (from left)Maryse Allard le Roux(France), Yosi Anaya (Mexico) and Dawn Tomlinson (USA)
from left: Ceci Arango (Colombia), Chunghie Lee, (korea) Beatrijs Sterk,(Germany) Maryse Allard le Roux(France), Songyeon Park, Mayor Kyoo-il Jo, Gahpran Kim, Myeongsun Kang (all from Korea)and Jonatan Jurkowski (Poland)
From left Mayor Kyoo-il Jo, Gahpran Kim, Myeongsun Kang and Beatrijs Sterk (Germany)

Jinju Silk Residency, June 2023

From 2 to 12 June I was invited to a remarkable workshop. 10 textile artists from different countries and continents were meeting wit 10 Korean textile masters to share their expertise. The idea was initiated by Korean Bojagi artist Chunghie Lee, who had her biannual Korean Bojagi Forum (KBF) in May 2023 in Seoul. Chunghie Lee is a former professor of the Rhode Island school of Design, who made the art of Bojagi known beyond the borders her country and beyond the sphere of textile art. She has thought and lectured on this transparent patchwork-like technique to all kind of artists & designers at many places in the world, for example at several of our European Textile Network Conferences, the last one taking place 2023 in Lodz, Poland. It was in Lodz that I became involved -together with Yosi Anya from Mexico- in the organization of the 2023 KBF. Most of the foreign artists lecturing at KBF were invited for the Silk Residency in the town of Jinju, known for its Silk industry. The goal of this residency was to create a work for an exhibition accompanying the Jinju Traditional Craft Biennial in November 2023.

Jinju became a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in 2019 with a focus on craft and folk art, thanks to its far-sighted Mayor Kyoo-il Jo, who was closely following and supporting our work with the beautiful silk fabrics during our Silk Residency in his town. He really was interested in what we were creating and visited us several times, he also made our visit unforgettable by organizing nice trips and wonderful Korean dinners.

During the 10 days we worked together, it became clear that the Korean craft masters and phd students were our teachers, perfect in all Korean techniques. We had to speak with hand and feet, as we spoke no Korean at all and not everybody spoke English. We learned to use translation apps when necessary. I learned that our Korean teachers seemed reserved and serious in the beginning but loved to laugh, sing and dance, whenever there was the slightest chance!

Every one of us had brought a plan about what to make and we started to work with great enthusiasm, some had clothing in mind, others wall-hangings or even sculptures. The working conditions at the Jinju Craft Centre were perfect, with sewing machines and every sort of technical support we could imagine.

For me it had been quite some time ago since I was creating textile art (and not just writing about it), and I had made a plan for creating a kimono after a very simple pattern. My teachers were surprised that someone who is not even fluent at a sewing machine, dares to start such a large work. The help of the Korean masters was just what I needed, in fact my work was a co-production with Gaphran Kim, who had a shop in town offering beautiful handmade, hand-dyed textiles!

Among the foreign participants were Maryse Allard le Roux/France Yosi Anaya/Mexico, Lasse Antonsen/Danmark/USA, Ceci Arango/Colombia,  Jiyoung Chung/USA,  Isabel Cisneros/Venezuela, Jonatan Jurkowski/Poland, Elin Noble/USA, Dawn Tomlinson/USA, and myself, Beatrijs Sterk /Netherlands/Germany. Most of us are known as textile artists, some art historians, curators or writers of articles on textiles.

Our day at the Jinju Craft Centre, started with lectures from the foreign participants about their work, showing pictures. After that our Korean teachers gave us some input about Korean techniques using the beautiful Jinju silk fabrics the Jinju industry had generously provided.

We than worked all day with nice lunch breaks and visits to restaurants in the evening. We also had several trips to tourist attractions like Jisu Seusang Village, the birth place of the founders of international Korean companies, persimmon dyeing workshops and a visit to a beautiful pottery workshop, river cruises and shopping tours to the textile shop of Gahpran Kim and the antique shops in town.

At the end of the 10 days the most important and unexpected result was that we had made new friends and that we knew for sure that want to come back to Korea, which has created such a warm place in our heart. The names of our Korean teachers were Myeongsun KANG, Hyunsuk KANG, Gahpran KIM, Songyeon PARK, Eunsil LEE, Jenam LEE, Balgun YIM, Sohyun JANG, Jaehwi HAN and finally the curator Chunghie LEE, who made it all possible!

Chunghie Lee/Korea: “No Name Women”, 117 x 127 cm, 2023, silk, Bojagi technique; photo Chungie Lee
Eilin Noble/ USA:”Jinju Coat”, 120 x 135 cm, 2023; silk, linen, rayon, selvedge waste; photo Elin Noble
Eilin Noble/ USA wearing her “Jinju Coat”, 120 x 135 cm, 2023; silk, linen, rayon, selvedge waste; photo Lasse Antonsen
Yosi Anaya/ Mexico:”Mantle for the lingering Dusk”, 108 x 105 cm,2023; different Jinju silk; photo Yosi Anaya
Yosi Anaya/ Mexico:”Mantle for the lingering Dusk”, 108 x 105 cm,2023; different Jinju silk; photo Yosi Anaya
Beatrijs Sterk/NL/D: “Floating Silk”,148 x 170 cm, silk and hemp ; Photo Beatrijs Sterk
Dawn Tomlinson/USA:”Jinju Memories”, 118 x 178 cm, 2023; Jinju silk; photo Dawn Tomlinson
Lasse Antonsenn/DK/USA:”Unhinged”(for Dr. Gislain);148 x 163 cm, 2023; silk, glue, photo Lasse Antonsen
Lasse Antonsen/DK/USA:”Unhinged”(for Dr. Gislain), detail;148 x 163 cm, 2023; silk, glue, photo Lasse Antonsen
Maryse Allard le Roux/France:”Light Breeze”,55 x 310 cm, 2023; silk, bojagi, hand stitched ; photo Maryse Allard le Roux
Maryse Allard le Roux/France:”Light Breeze”, detail, 55 x 310 cm, 2023; silk, bojagi, hand stitched ; photo Maryse Allard le Roux
Ceci Arango/Colombia: “Organza Basketry”, 90 x 100 cm, 2023;Jinju silk organza, gold thread, hand stitching; photo Ceci Arango
Ceci Arango/Colombia: “Tunjo”,85 x 120 cm, 2023 Jinju silk Jogakbo in samosa stitch; photo Ceci Arango
Isabel Cisneros/Venezuela:”Bojagi Book”, 23 x 29 x 2 cm, 2023, silk on silk, photo Isabel Cisneros
Jiyoung Chung/Korea/Usa :Untitled, 64 x 94 cm, 2023, Joomchi technique, paper; photo Jiyoung Chung
Gahpran Kim/Korea:”K-Hanbok”138 x 150cm, 2023; Jinju silk; photo Gahpran Kim
Myeongsun Kang/Korea:”Nubi Vest”,54 x 76 cm, 2023; Jinju silk; photo Myeongsun Kang
Hyunsuk Kang/Korea: “The aesthetics of scraps”, 20 x 200 cm, 2023; Jinju silk; photo Hyunsuk Kang
Jinju Silk Residency exhibition view from November 2023
Opening of the Jinju Silk Residency exhibition at the Jinju Town Hall in November 2023