Kingston Museum Exhibition and Diners, 17 August 2017

Written by: Ian Simm  |  Posted on: August 27th, 2017

Through Their Eyes

Kingston Museum

Seoyoung Kim (3rd from right), museum curator and our guide, with some of the BKS party

BKS Committee Member Seoyoung Kim is a curator at the Kingston Museum and she kindly offered members of the Society a special viewing of her latest project. Through Their Eyes brings together 20th century European artists’ views of Korea with contemporary perceptions of UK and Korea by artists from each country.

Kingston Museum occupies a purpose-built early 20th century building which it shares with the borough library. The exhibition takes up the art gallery on the first floor but also very effectively hangs wood block prints by the French artist Paul Jacoulet on the stairs leading to the main gallery. The contrast between Jacoulet’s very traditional, though individual, images with contemporary Korean art is striking, and there are also pieces by the well-known British artist Elizabeth Keith, whose technique brought together traditional wood block methods with modern European painting – there is a version in the exhibition of her famous portrait of A Korean Scholar but also two lesser known and atmospheric pieces. The traditional view of Korea is completed by the American Lilian May Miller and etchings by the German Willy Seiler.


Sue King and artist Yoojin Kim with her work ‘Lady in Pink – The Queen’

The exhibition is divided into sections on People, Surroundings and Lives, the last sub-titled Korea Now and featuring UK artists’ take on Korea – including an enigmatic photographic sequence by Emma Corrall, whom BKS was pleased to support during her period as artist-in-residence at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul earlier this summer. But perhaps the greater impact comes from the first two sections which contain Korean artists’ interpretation of the UK. We were fortunate to have with us Yoojin Kim, a member of the BKS but more importantly one of the artists contributing to the exhibition with her Lady in Pink – the Queen. This is at one level a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in the traditional Korean method of hand sewn silk pieces assembled into an image (jogakbo); but stand close to it and you have a most attractive piece of abstract art. Most of the pieces suggest a positive image of the artists’ adopted country, though Sarah Choi’s Post Brexit London in ceramic is not an optimistic installation, though it is a very striking one.

There is not space here to cover the whole of this fascinating exhibition – it’s strongly recommended to anyone with an interest in how UK and Korea interact, and continues at the museum until 30 September 2017. It is particularly appropriate that it is housed close to the largest Korean community in Europe, just down the road in New Malden, where the BKS party of 16, including 2 new members, enjoyed an excellent Korean meal following our tour.

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