WON SEOK KIM

T: (+61) 02 4374 1494
E: wlkill@mangrovemountain.net.au

born 1959 Seoul, Korea
lives in Mangrove Mountain, NSW

I was born in Korea – I now live in Australia – I am a potter. These three circumstances led to deep musings on how to best pursue my work.
 
Korea is a country steeped in tradition – Australia is an ancient land stamped with a modern Western civilisation. It occurred to me punch’óng pottery would be the best way to express my impressions.

Punch’óng ware is unique to Korea (1206-1592) and marked the change from Buddhism of the Koryo Dynasty to Neo-Confucianism of the Choson period. A dark stoneware clay is covered with white slip, stamped and scratched then fired with an ash glaze to mimic the decorative and colourful Celadon-ware used by nobles of the time. The upper classes, inspired by Neo-Confucianism and its encouragement of a more pragmatic and sober approach to life, began using the simpler, unrestrained punch’óng ware which was originally used by the lower classes.

Aspects of the Australian landscape are reminiscent of the rough textures and subdued colours of punch’óng. The scribbly gum and exposed sandstone ridges resemble the freestyle drawing and stamp-work used. Much of the landscape is untamed, its non-indigenous people are not bound by too much tradition and they have a love of leisure. This freedom and sense of play is always evident in punch’óng. Furthermore, in nature, the intangible element of chí is found. This is something I try to infuse into my work, and is (probably) how a good pot can be distinguished from a not-so-good one. If a vessel is produced with the ‘right amount’ of chí, it follows the vessel will hold the ‘right amount’ of chí.
WON SEOK KIM 2006

Kim studied pottery in Korea at the Nyengi College and, after graduating with a teaching degree, continued his training with a master potter in Icheon, one of the few centres to practise traditional Korean techniques at the time. His love of punch’óng ware dates from this point. He came to Australia in 1988 to study at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney, NSW, where he was awarded a Master of Arts in 1994.