NotesJoungmee Do (b.1966) is an established Korean metal artist proficient in the traditional Korean metal techniques of ipsa (metal inlay), which she spent some years perfecting under the tutelage of the Korean master Kyo Joon Choi. She studied in Korea in the 1990s and graduated Master of Arts (Fine Art) at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, Melbourne, in 1999.
The inspiration for 'Bowls' came from the research Do undertook as part of her Master of Arts (Fine Art) by research in the Department of Gold and Silversmithing at RMIT University, Melbourne, between 1997-1999. Her research focus was ipsa, traditional Korean metal inlay, and bojagi, traditional Korean wrapping cloths, particularly from the Joseon dynasty. Do sees these as connected and equates the act of sewing with thread to that of inlaying metal wire. While undertaking this degree, Do visited the Powerhouse Museum and saw the 'Rapt in colour: Korean textiles and costumes of the Choson dynasty' exhibition (September 1998 - April 1999) and researched bojagi in the Research Library at the Powerhouse Museum. 'Bowls' is Do's final work for her Master of Arts.
Do's artist's statement reveals the historical, cultural and personal nature of these bowls. She states,
'The concept and aesthetic style of these bowls was influenced by the Korean daily utensil, the rice bowl.
The Korean rice bowl is always presented as a pair, one for the male and one for the female. However, the shape differs from most other pairs. The male is always considered to be a be a bit higher than female which derives from a principle called 'Eum-Yang' ...
In linking traditional wrapping cloths to the rice bowls it should be noted that Korean wrapping cloths in Korean culture appear to be as important or aesthetically significant as the object they contain or carried on a special occasion.
When I started making these bowls, I was thinking about my childhood memories, which are linked to the idea of the rice bowl.
Personally a bowl not only acts as a container for object, but also symbolizes a receptacle for the thoughts of myself or someone else.
My bowls could be considered as hollowware or objects. The external and internal metaphors of emotional containment could be applied to anyone.'
'I believe these bowls successfully articulate the richness of the metal surface using traditional Korean metal techniques and associative aspects of the wrapping cloths while translating them into the context of contemporary metalwork. More importantly the influences of working in Australia provided me with the unique opportunity to bridge the conventional Korean gender divide enabling me to combine influence from male and female precincts of my traditional culture.'
Do used the traditional Korean metal craft technique of jjoeumipsa to decorate these bowls, where metal wire is inlaid into the chiselled surface of a metal object, to create a contrasting pattern.
The process of jjoeumipsa begins with the artist temporarily filling the hollow object with pitch (gamtang) to help the object keep its shape. Next, the artist uses a chisel and chasing hammer to create closely spaced indentations across the entire surface of the object in horizontal, vertical and diagonal directions. At this point, the surface of the object has the appearance of woven fabric.
The desired pattern can then be transferred onto the surface of the object and using this as a guide, the flexible gold, silver, bronze and/or odong (95% copper and 5% gold) wire can be inlaid into the grooves created by the chisel. A pointed tool is used to guide the wire, a chisel to cut the wire and ball-peen hammer to hammer it in. A planishing hammer is then used to fasten and polish the inlaid surface of the object.
Traditionally, a black lacquer would be applied to the object, which would serve as a background to the inlaid metal. However, Do used heat oxidisation to darken the surface and maintain the reflective qualities of the steel. On the inside of the bowls, Do painted 5 coats of natural organic resin, heating the bowls for 20-40 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius between each coat.
This jjoeumipsa process requires great skill and much time, these bowls taking 6 hours of work a day for 6-8 months to complete.
Note: Revised Korean romanisation has been used in place of the McCune-Reischauer romanisation. For example: jjoeumipsa in place of choum iybsa, bojagi in place of pojagi, Joseon in place of Choson.