South Korean artist Dahye Jeong weaves intensely sensitive, hardly-there baskets. But these are not containers to location in the corner of a space or to things total of newspapers. Just about every is painstakingly handcrafted in excess of months from a solitary, uncommon substance — horsehair. A person of her parts — a stout yet intricate, copper-hued piece titled “A Time of Sincerity” — has just won the 2022 Loewe Foundation Craft Prize, an award founded by the Spanish style home to celebrate the modern evolution of standard craft methods.
The method that Jeong uses dates back again to the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), when it was employed to produce tough, position-image hats for males. The strategy is specifically linked with the “gat”, a hat with a cylindrical crown and huge brim. Jeong, who analyzed equally sculpture and textiles at college, discovered the technique for the duration of a programme operate by Korea Craft & Layout Basis on South Korea’s Jeju Island, exactly where she grew up.
Jeju is also house to the Gat Exhibition Hall, which showcases and celebrates the common craft at the rear of these types of hats. Jeong resources a great deal of the horsehair she uses from entrepreneurs on the island, who usually shave off their animals’ tail hair as soon as each and every four decades.
The 33-year-old artist was drawn to what she describes as horsehair’s “strong” and “powerful” features. “I’m fascinated by the product, for the reason that when you merge it with weaving you can change it from flat to 3-dimensional,” she states. Even with the slender and fragile excellent of the hair strands when different, when tightly woven together they have a wiry energy, ready to guidance shapes of practically any sort. Using needles, Jeong weaves the hair in geometric patterns around a reliable piece of wood, which decides the resultant condition. This is then warmth-treated and the wooden core eliminated to reveal the final get the job done.
Jeong adopted horsehair weaving for baskets to reinterpret the ornamental vessel forms of another vital craft from Korean background — comb-sample pottery. Pots manufactured in this fashion, relationship from the neolithic period, are engraved with geometric styles, generated by a comb-like instrument. Jeong’s lattice-like baskets link one standard craft to an additional by echoing the pots’ condition and decoration.
For the prize — run by the Loewe Foundation, a cultural physique recognized by Enrique Loewe in 1988 to support layout and craftsmanship — Jeong’s operate was decided on from a shortlist of 30 finalists by a jury of style luminaries. They provided ceramicist Magdalene Odundo, architect-designer Patricia Urquiola and Abraham Thomas, a curator at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Artwork.
Jonathan Anderson, a fashion designer who is Loewe’s imaginative director, says there is one thing “quite tranquil and poetic” about Jeong’s profitable piece.
“I imagine it is that plan of reverting to the earlier to project to the upcoming,” he claims. Anderson — an avid collector of craft himself — founded the Craft Prize in 2017. This year’s version is the fifth — the pandemic intended there was no award in 2020.
In earlier a long time, the prize has absent to artists working with textiles, clay, wood and lacquer. Several of the winners designed sculptural attractive is effective that harnessed historic craft methods in new approaches.
The maintenance and revival of conventional crafts is of enormous significance to Anderson. It is also central to the heritage of Loewe, at first founded in 1846 as a collective of leather artisans.
“Fundamentally, what is significant is that [these crafts] survive to the following technology,” Anderson claims. “This is a single of the most significant items I am fascinated by. This thought of finding out and handing info on from one craftsperson to an additional is unbelievably critical, due to the fact it is kind of like the tales of our lives.” Anderson hopes the prize will assistance give “a microphone” to craft.
“It puts craft at the forefront, as an alternative of diluting it,” he states, introducing that there are number of large-profile prizes for craft, in distinction to up to date art. “For one thing like craft to be supplied this platform I feel is extremely important, since it is just as vital as modern artwork.”
Alongside each year’s winner, the jury selects finalists to acquire particular mentions. This year the mentions include the South African ceramicist Andile Dyalvane, whose picked get the job done, a sculptural earthenware vessel, pays homage to African and British pottery. The German goldsmith Julia Obermaier acquired a point out for her jewellery pieces, designed up of geometric rock crystals.
All the finalists’ operate is on display at the newly opened Seoul Museum of Craft Artwork (SeMoCA) right until July 31. The location was preferred prolonged ahead of the winner was picked.
“In Korea, they have an astounding way of preserving craft,” Anderson states. “People have so a great deal respect for it.”
Jeong’s Loewe Foundation award follows her profitable the Cheongju Intercontinental Craft Opposition Grand Prize last yr. Final month, one particular of her baskets was exhibited as element of Milan’s once-a-year Salone del Cell. She hopes that her achievement will aid to revive standard horsehair weaving, which has been dying out. Jeong plans to expand her use of the craft, creating not only other forms of baskets but also other items these types of as hats, returning the craft to its original variety.
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