Monday, 27 May 2013

'Tales from Blue Truck Island'

Oohhh Hiya!!!
Thought I would share the results of my latest collection produced during my residency with Incheon Art Platform, here in South Korea! As I've mentioned (about a million times!), I have been based here for the past 3 months working between Baengnyeong-do, Incheon and Seoul working on my new series of wearable art works and developing a whole load of field research which has included teaching textile workshops, collaborating on an animation and working with creatives based here on various photoshoots!

My new work is titled 'Tales from Blue Truck Island' and is based upon the themes of cultural identity and community interaction with the residents and visual aesthetics of Baengnyeong Island.... You can find the full information and details about the project and it's influences on my website by clicking HERE!!!
I've loved working on this project, it gave me a whole load of new inspiration from places that had I not been working on this artist residency, I probably would never have got to experience, IN MY LIFE! The final results of the 'Tales from Blue Truck Island' include the series of wearable art works, a photography collaboration and an animation.... the animation is coming soon so keep your eyes peeled!!! And tomorrow my exhibition here in Korea I will be also updating on that!!!
So the images were produced in collaboration with the super talented, Seoul based photographer, Jessica Berggrun and a wonderful team of magical people!
I will leave you with a select few images from the project and you can see the full series of photography and read all about the project HERE!!!!!! 
Image Credits:
Photographer:Jessica Berggrun.
Make Up Artist: Natalia Che.
Models: Sera Haith & Correen Bo.
Assistant: Sarah Kim.

Catch you laterzzzz!!!
Love & Sparkles,
Emma xxx

Temples, Balloons and Sweet Potato Stuff!

Good Morning from Koreaaaa!!!
Hiya! Just a quick one as there isn't really any juicy gossip today~just a few colourful photos!! So my time this past week has been mainly focused on wrapping up all of my projects here and working in preparation for my exhibition that will be opening shortly!
I don't have much time left in wonderful Korea so I've been squeezing in a few special sights and sampling as many yummy sweet potato products as possible! I'm obsessed with these sweet potato options...steam sweet potato cake...sweet potato latte...sweet potato ice cream...sweet potato cream cake...sweet potato many things to try!LOVE THEM!!!!
The other day I went for a lurk around Gangnam for the first time and I also paid a visit to the beautiful Bongeunsa Temple which was magical...bizarre as you have all of the curly, colourful temples and then a whole load of skyscrapers in the background! We are still at the end of the Lotus Festival here so this temple also still has all of the lanterns up which is a really awesome sight to see! I also sneaked in a final visit to wonderful Wolmi Island to have a last bit of candyfloss!!!!!!The weather here has been amazing this past week...a couple of cheeky 30 degrees thrown in!!YES PLEASE!
Ok so it's back to the grind so I will leave you with a few photos from recent adventures!!
Love and Sparkles,
Emma xxxx

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Shooting in Suwon!!!!!!!!!

Helllooo from Sunny Korea!!!!!!!!!
So at the weekend I was working on another collaboration here in S.K with a wonderfully talented team on a photoshoot in the nearby city of Suwon!

It was pretty exciting to get to see another area of the country and I also experienced my first encounter with Korean buses which was fun~ especially when there are coffee and donuts involved!!!! So our location was the 'Korean Folk Village' which was really awesome to see as my work here is very closely linked to Korean heritage and culture so it was great to work with a backdrop that is so specific and of course massively different to what I am used to in the UK!
The village is amazing with a tonne of traditional structures, ceremonial performances, artifacts and sets and the whole place is surrounded by super green forests so it was a really cool location to shoot at!!! Such a fun day working with a wonderful bunch of creative keep an eye out for the upcoming images of our collaboration....
Love and Sparkles,


Thursday, 16 May 2013

Mountains, Love-Locks and Lanterns!!!

Ooooh Hello from Lantern Land!!!!
So today was one of those days where there was a tonne of stuff to do and it all happened to be mega spaced out which turned out to be a winner for me as it meant I had a bit of time to kill in between meetings!!! Of course this meant there was an opportunity for an adventure!!!
There is still so much of Seoul that I'm still yet to see, mainly because my project takes up the biggest chunk of my time and also because it seems that most of my activities are based around only a couple of areas!! So today I had an appointment in Myeong-Dong and afterwards I spotted Namsan Mountain twinkling in the distance... so of course what else was there to do apart from decide to climb a mountain just as the temperature was peaking at 28 degrees!!! eeessshhhh!!! It was a SCORCHER...should have worn suncream!!!!
It was so lovely.... bizarre that you have all of the city stuff going on, then plonked right in the middle is a beautiful mountain all green and GLORIOUSSS!!! I mean yes, it's a mountain but, it's not exactly a hardcore hike...there were girls walking it in heels and 90 year old women getting involved...but either way...I'm not really accustomed to 'climbing mountains' so it was quite strenuous in these TROPICALLLLLLL temperatures and carrying a million bags, hefty cameras and allsorts!!!!
The views over Seoul were AMAZINGGG! It's such a vast, city and I love how it's surrounded by yeah the scenery was totally worth the 'hike'!!! At the top of Namsan is Seoul Tower and the viewing platform is COVERED with 'Love-Locks' with people's messages written on...actually I've never seen so many of them in my life?!?! This whole padlock craze seems to be popping up all over the place these days, but they've taken it to a whole new level here..... soooo many and lots of magical colours so that was pretty awesome!!

Later in the day I had some stuff to do around Insadong which meant I had to rock by Jogyesa Temple.... I was lucky enough to catch some of the lanterns from the Lotus Festival.... at the weekend they held the big annual festival, with parades and allsorts going on and sadly I had to give it a miss as I was shooting over the I'm soooo HAPPY that I got to get a peep of some of the lanterns before they wrap it all up!!!! that's all for now...I'm off to tend to my ONE sunburnt arm and catch some ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!!
I'll leave you with a few photos!!!
Love and Sparkles,

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Sunshine in Seoul!!!

Ooooh Hiya!!!!
So this past week since returning to the mainland...things have been outrageously busy....strange to go from quiet island life back to the mayhem of the city~ really bizarre to go from seeing more starfish than humans to being squashed like a sardine on the Seoul subway during rush hour!!! It's really exciting to be back as there is a lot going on with my project etc... the countryside was awesome but, naturally I missed all of the plastic, neon and noise of the city!!
I'm now at the stage in my project where everything is coming together so it's exciting to be sneaking closer to the final result of my research and work here! Over the past week I was prepping for a collaboration that I was working on with a Seoul based creative team...which I've been super excited about for weeks and weeks!!! At the weekend I did a photoshoot of my new wearable art works that I've been developing here with a really AWESOME crew which was so much fun! I was really looking forward to working with some creatives here in the city as it's always amazing to link up with new people in new places!!!! So watch this space for the images from our collaboration!!!!
So basically all the finishing of sewing, meetings, location scouting, final prep work blah blah blah etc has taken over my life since I returned from  Baengnyeong-do... so aside from that, I don't have too much juicy gossip right now! I've been mainly back and forth between my base at Incheon Art Platform and town like a yo-yo... of course this means I get to take a zillion colourful photos en route...and it also means that I am within easy reach of amazinggg vegan food from 'Loving Hut' and the likes!!!
Also my cute sock obsession has come back to haunt me... after the whole Japan scenario when I ended up buying 27 pairs, I vowed not to go so excessive in future...but, over the past couple of days I've ended up racking up a pretty substantial collection again... I was planning on calling it quits until I spotted a particularly glorious pair of UNICORN SOCKS today!!! Obviously I couldn't say NO!!!
The first thing I noticed when I got back was how different the place looks in Spring...when I left for the island in March it was super cold and all of the trees looked brown and nice to come back to lovely warm weather and colourful flowers EVERYWHERE! I was also mega happy to catch the cherry blossoms here aswell!!! In other news I finally had some pizza here in Korea!! ( well, aside from my own attempt with flour, water and a frying pan) Last night we found a cute, little Italian place so after almost 3 months, the pizza was the biggest treat EVER!!! Strangest thing about the meal was they served us pink pickles and bread with STRAWBERRY JAM for starters!!!!!! bedtime is definitely I shall leave you with a few photos!!
Love and Sparkles,
Emma xxxx

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Return from Baengnyeong Island!!!

Hellooo from the bright lights of the city!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So as you know I have spent the past 5 weeks in 'the wilderness'...I've been pretty vague about where I was with all of this talk of 'the countryside' etc...this was mainly because it was somewhat of a sensitive location...also in terms of my project I really wanted to maintain the emphasis on the themes that were most important to me in relation to my work which, were mainly the people, rural communities and physical aesthetics of my environment, opposed to the most common associations of the island.
Of course it's important that I do acknowledge where I've been and my reasons why, so...In short, I've been based in an art studio on Baengnyeong Island~ In textbook terms, it is one of South Korea's most isolated islands sitting only 10 miles off the North Korean coast and is only accessible by a 4 hour, 222km boat ride from the mainland. It lies just a stones throw away from the disputed maritime border, the NLL (Northern Limit Line), in the Yellow Sea and has been witness to a couple of fatal incidents in recent years. In general the island is usually associated with 2 things; it's geo-political location and the fact it is a heavily militarized base.
For me personally, living on what is essentially a frontline island, was a whole new ball game for me because I've never, ever lived in a potentially unpredictable situation before and I have never had so much exposure to military presence. To put things into perspective, if I stood about 200 yards from my house, I could physically see the N.Korean coastline (there's the photo above ~the land mass over the sea there is N.K).
It would be ridiculous for me to say that with recent tensions and news coverage that there were not times when I was absolutely terrified especially when there were media reports specific to where I was. But, on the whole, my days there were pretty 'normal' and mostly involved sewing, making lunch, writing, just basic everyday's a peaceful and calm place and unless I saw something like a tank or walked past an emergency shelter or landmine warning signs, I would mainly forget about that side of things and just be able to enjoy the beautiful landscape, daily island life and working on my project.
To be honest the mammoth spider situation actually caused me more sleepless nights opposed to worrying about things that were out of my control. It would be naive to say that my decision to go there was not one that came without risks, but the whole experience was both massively challenging and amazing on both a personal and work-orientated level. 
So my motivation to go there was because it was an opportunity to step into the unknown as, aside from these common associations, there has previously only been minimal insight into anything else, especially the daily lives of the 5000 civilians that call Baengnyeong-do home. My direction was to basically go there and observe the opposite of these predictable influences and to create something that was entirely based on the core identity of the island, it's people and specific characteristics. I had very little experience of rural life so the chance to actually base myself within a small community where fishing and farming was the main industry was really interesting and a world away from my normal life.
My time there has provided me with endless influences that have been incredibly valuable for my art work here in South Korea....I got to see the seasons transition through end of winter into spring so the whole island changed from grey and baron into covered with green and AMAZING pink cherry blossoms!!! The natural landscape is immense and like nothing I have ever seen before...the island boasts the spectacular Dumujin rocks which was one of my favourite places to go to.
My ultimate favourite place on the island was Simcheonggak Pavilion which was a nice walk from the studio and sits atop a hill with the most awesome view across the's a beautiful, colourful building that pays homage to the Korean folk tale of Simcheong. Much of the island is dedicated to it's farming industry so there are huge stretches of rice fields that seem to go on forever... as it is an island of course there are some impressive beaches, mainly Kongdol Beach and Sagot beach.... Sagot is particularly special in that it's one of only the few natural airfield beaches in the world, so previously it was used as a landing strip for planes. The sand is so dense that you can drive on it, so it was common to see buses zipping down the beach!!!
The majority of my time was spent working in the art studio, which was a little yellow house on the edge of Baengyneong's main town, Jinchon. It took some major adjustments to get used to the silence (aside from the noisy roosters!) as I'm not accustomed to being somewhere so remote. I had weird and wonderful experiences on a daily basis, from catching someone foraging for mountain herbs in my back garden, to the woman who would prune the rose bushes wearing yellow tartan trousers and a HOLOGRAPHIC sun visor!!! AMAZING!!!
A massive part in making my experiences on Baengnyeong-do so positive was down to the kindness of the local people. They were incredibly friendly in welcoming me to the island and involving me in their lives.I also really enjoyed being able to collaborate with the teachers from the local school, alongside my project, as it was a great chance to actually be able to integrate with the community. It was really important for my project to actually communicate with the islanders so that I could really understand the topics that I was researching whilst I was there. As I said, it was totally stepping into the unknown~ I didn't have a clue what to expect before going and it was actually a lot different to how I'd imagined it to be. I hadn't anticipated that it would be so vibrant and full of life, that villages would be bustling with social activities and I wasn't expecting the scenery to be as incredible as it for me it was amazing to have the chance to observe this and spend this time based there. It was probably the most obscure situation that I've ever put myself in, but I'm really excited to what it has offered to my work, so all in all it's been a really awesome experience that will be impossible to ever forget!!! There will be many things that I miss about Baengnyeong-do, mainly the amazing sunsets from my back garden every night, getting to do weird stuff like ride around in police cars or blue trucks, being given free cucumbers from the lovely lady with the sparkly, gold tooth in the grocery store, seeing a zillion rainbow starfish on a daily basis and of course the wonderful people that I met~ obviously there will also be things I won't miss, namely the SUPERSIZED spiders and not being able to get extra-mature cheddar cheese!!! this post has turned into an essay so I shall leave you with a few photos from the island, as the clock is ticking and now I'm back in the city the deadlines for my project are stacking up, so it's time for a spot of sewing before I hit the hay!!!
Love and Sparkles,
Emma xxx