With the start of the new year also comes the start of one of the highlights of the TALONS program..Yes In-Depth! Just like Eminent, it doesn’t even feel like it’s been a year since I started last year’s In-Depth, archery (check out last year’s posts for more info), but here I am once more, ready to add fuel to a newly kindled fire called Korean Pottery, so yes as you might have imagined, this year’s passionate five month project will be about Korean Pottery!
You may be wondering, What is Korean Pottery? or Why Korean Pottery? or even What’s the difference between the Western Pottery we do here versus Korean Pottery?
First of all, Korean Pottery was first truly developed in the Goryeo Dynasty in the 10th century although its roots can be traced back to 8000 BC. Pottery has definitely evolved since then, but many aspects have stayed the same such as the process in which the ceramics are made. In the early stages, Korean pottery is quite similar to western pottery. In both, clay is placed on a potter’s wheel and is molded and shaped to the potter’s liking. Then it is left to dry so it can be fired in the kiln.
Where Korean pottery truly differs is in the last step; the glaze. There is a special type of glace that many may have heard of, known as the Goryeo celadon which is well-known for its special colour, its rarity as well as its simplicity and beauty. Also another point that makes Korean pottery differ from western pottery is that Korean pottery is known to show great symbols such as cranes, lotus flowers, and carps which represent the potter’s view on nature and life.
So why did I choose Korean Pottery?
It was really just so that I could connect back to my roots once more. I’ve seen many displays of modern pottery here in Canada, but not so much from other countries, so I also wanted the opportunity to look at a different style. Hopefully with this In-Depth I will learn pottery as well as more about my culture.
Unlike last year, I resolved myself to improve on the many challenges and mistakes that I made and already I believe that I have succeed in one aspect. This year I was smarter than the last and I anticipated the coming of In-Depth, so even before school started I had already chosen my In-Depth and I already had a mentor! It took me a while during winter break to choose my In-Depth between two topics: Korean pottery and marksmanship, but in the end I chose the former because I felt that it would be a completely different feel from last year’s archery and I might as well take advantage of the opportunity to try something completely new.
Taking this energetic passion with me, I was able to find my mentor Jung Hong Kim. He is a master at Korean Pottery, having pursued it all his life while creating many great masterpieces that were recently on display at the Evergreen Cultural Centre and the Port Moody Arts Centre. One challenge that I already know that I will face is the communication barrier, because as an older citizen he only came to Canada about 5-10 years ago knowing next to no English. I hope that my simple conversational level Korean will be enough to learn all the concepts and techniques required for this difficult art form and even if it isn’t at least I will be expanding my knowledge of the Korean language. Nonetheless, being able to learn from such a master has already got me really pumped up for this project! My mentor has his own studio in the basement of his house. It is like a pottery heaven with both finished and unfinished projects everywhere and a small area at the back to teach students. One really cool aspect about my mentor’s studio is that he makes all the clay himself. I haven’t had the time to take a closer look, but he has a clay machine that he uses to recycle and make new clay. Next time I go (on Friday), it’s definitely something to ask more about!
Although I anticipate some challenges to come with this project such as scheduling and commitment (especially because pottery is something that takes up quite a lot of time) I still hope that everything will run smoothly from here on. Korean Pottery will definitely bring exciting, new challenges and adventures to look forward to every week. Now, I’m ready to begin the In-Depth marathon, so let the race begin!
Here’s a really cool video of some Korean potters showing their expertise! Definitely a recommended watch!