So a couple of weeks ago I waved farewell to magical Korea.... I was super sad to leave as I had such an awesome time there and working on this project has been both mega challenging and amazing... so although I didn't want it to come to an end, I'm glad that I left with a bunch of such special memories and got to experience so many incredible/scary/fun things!!!!
So in the whirlwind of installing the exhibition, wrapping up the projects, farewell parties, last minute shopping etc.... I never had a chance to share this weird and wonderful place that I visited during my final few days in Korea...
I'd heard of this place before I'd even actually arrived in Korea and I had my heart set on going whilst I was over there and finally I found the chance to go, just in the nick of time, before I said 'Bye Bye' to kimchi land!!! This little gem is called 'Heyri Art Village' and lies on the cusp of the DMZ~ unusual location as you have this crazy little art village and cute cafes and then a few yards away you have armed border guards, views over North Korea and mile upon mile of barbed wire, so an interesting area to see~ but to be honest, after similar backdrops on the island for such a prolonged period, I was more into the Toy Museum, weird giant Daikon sculptures and strawberry cream cakes!!!
Heyri is about an hour north of Seoul so it was a fun little day trip and chance to see another part of Korea.... bit of countryside action in the mix and all that!!!! It's basically a compound of art studios and independent galleries dotted with parks, woodland sculptures, houses, bookstores, bakeries...It's home to over 400 artists and writers and acts as a place of inspiration in an isolated creative environment....the architecture is particularly exciting as each and every building is totally different and I loved how around every corner there was something really random...like a ramshackle, old red bus and a rogue mushroom house sitting atop a building?!?!? Really bizarre place....LOVED IT!!!
It was such a fun day...we spent hours trawling a few different museums and sampling several of the cafes....we seemed to be stopping for a snack every 5 minutes!!!! It was also in Heyri Art Village that I found the best 'Patbingsu' to date in Korea... Ok..so basically when it started getting warmer during my time in Korea my ever favourite 'Bungeoppang' red bean fish started becoming less frequent around the markets and ice sherbet aka Patpingsu/ 'Popping-Su' started taking it's place... I was quite excited about this as I always love an Asian shaved ice dessert and I guess this Korean version is kind of like a fancier variety of Japanese Kakigori... As those last few weeks were pretty warm and humid, I found many excuses to sneak in a patbingsu here and there and 9 times out of 10 the best combos were from the tiny back alley food joints as they threw ALLSORTS in there...anyway.... as I said...the best one I found was from a little kiosk in Heyri Art Village...it came with the standard: ice/condensed milk/red bean/mochi combo but was packed to the rafters with cocktail cherries, pistachio ice cream, fruit salad and CORNFLAKES!!!! eeeesh AMAZING!!!
Yeah, so all in all an interesting day out....the place is surrounded by greenery and mountains and then you have this strange mix between super kitschy and conceptual which is interesting.... super slick eco-structures sitting alongside a fibreglass Minnie Mouse and life~size Blues Brothers statues...weird and amazing.... one of my favourite little trips whilst I was in Korea!!!
So, then I guess that brought me to the end of an awesome 3 months living in Kimchi~Land!!! Yikes....now it's over it seems to have flown by but, it seemed like such a long stretch, especially when I was living it up rural style on the island.... it's probably been one of my favourite projects to date just because it was so varied in terms of the different aspects from the field research, making of the garments, the photography collaborations and the animation....not to forget teaching the textile workshops and working with the women from the school on the island! I guess it was also a special trip in that it gave me a chance to get a broad insight into Korean culture as a whole from spending time in the city in both Seoul and Incheon and then really getting back to basics in the isolated realms of Baengnyeong-do...Working on the island was tough in parts, mainly because of the gigantic, horrible spiders and of course because of what I was seeing on the news during that time, not to mention the fact I have zero experience of living somewhere so remote and cut off.... but, it was also awesome...had I not had the opportunity to do this residency I would have most likely, never ever, EVER in my lifetime had the chance to go to Baengnyeong-do so it was really amazing to get to see and totally experience such a place!
Yeah, Korea was super fun from start to finish and I got to meet some magical people...so I will miss it and hopefully will find myself back there sooner rather than later!
There are so many things that I am missing already.... sweet potato latte, awesome underground markets, constant K-Pop, cute cafes, glutinous rice donuts, street snacks, hanging around Hongdae and drinking bubble tea daily....too many things...but luckily I brought back a hefty supply of green tea with brown rice, endless sachets of matcha latte, my super special Bungeoppang pan, whopper stash of Korean facemasks and plenty of treats ranging from weird items of clothing to cute, new bento boxes and an outrageous amount of accessories and hairclips...so that should see me through!
Don't forget if you happen to be in Seoul or Incheon, there's still chance to catch my exhibition, 'Tales from Blue Truck Island' at Incheon Art Platform until the 30th of June!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!