Last week I celebrated my one year anniversary with magical Korea!! I CAN NOT BELIEVE I HAVE BEEN HERE FOR A WHOLE YEAR?!?! The time has flown by, it really has...I still feel as if the whole experience is still new and to be honest there hasn't been a day when I've felt like the novelty has worn off or haven't appreciated being here. That's not to say that there aren't things that I miss about the UK, namely family and friends (and things like crumpets and salt & vinegar crisps!!) but, all in all this past year has been one of my favorites so far!
Moving to Asia was something that I had set in my sights for many, many years. Much as I loved living and working in London for several years, once I started taking on more work overseas and traveling a lot with my artist residency projects I knew that I needed to dedicate myself to giving somewhere totally new a shot at calling home. After spending a few months in Korea in 2013 working with Incheon Art Platform during my time as artist in residence on Baengnyeong Island I knew that magical Seoul was the place I wanted to be!
One reason for deciding to move to Korea was to be able to devote some serious time into researching and seeking creative influence as well as learning about new methods, techniques and heritage crafts. One thing I love here is experiencing such a diverse arts scene in Seoul. There is so much going on and there is a tremendous value placed on creativity here which means there is always something new going on whether is be exhibitions, seminars, workshops, artist talks or community projects so I find the environment here really inspiring and encouraging in terms of generating my own new pieces. Being surrounded by a total cultural contrast to my own has equally pushed me in new directions with my own research and approach to my creative ideas. My focus on the upcoming months is to learn more about traditional Korean textile methods, specifically natural dyeing and canvas folk painting...so I'm excited as I embark upon the upcoming year or so here to add some new strings to my bow as there as so many interesting little workshops going on! My most recent workshop that I attended was learning how to make a paper lotus lantern which I did at a temple taught by a wonderful volunteer who was a bakery teacher and a Japanese major!!!
It's also been an awesome year for food too! I have NEVER seen so many independent cafes as I have in Seoul! Cafe culture is a huge thing here and the European coffee experience is massively popular so everywhere you turn there are cute cafes and an abundance of 'Afternoon Tea' sets, mountains of macarons and dainty little tarts and cakes!
A couple of my friends here are equally into good cake as I am and love searching for new cafes and cute tea houses, so we have been on a mission exploring the cafes and coffee shops of Seoul, one slice at a time!
We have found some amazing places!! Probably the best afternoon tea of MY life was at Garosugil's 'Salon de Thé : Mon Chou Chou'... it came with tiny little lemon meringue pies, cheese scones, violet macarons and teeny cream puffs!! AMAZINGGGG!
Being a vegetarian in Korea is not always an easy feat. The majority of Korean dishes are packed up with meat or fish, staple kimchi included which means eating out and about always takes some forward planning!
I have however found some AWESOME veggie and vegan places around Seoul and it seems as though more and more are popping up so it's always fun to track down a new veggie eatery!!!
I also really LOVE cooking here. I miss having a big kitchen and a proper oven but, it's amazing the things you can do with a tiny £20 toaster oven and minimal surface space (that includes squatting on the floor to grate carrots onto a plate to whip up a carrot cake!!)
I love to visit the traditional market as they have so many weird and wonderful vegetables that I've never seen before in my life so it makes kitchen experiments fun... I have now mastered how to cook kohlrabi and daikon...also there is an unidentifiable vegetable at the market I have my eye on so that may be my next challenge!
I would be here all day if I were to try to sum up an entire year of what has gone down here in lovely Korea. It's been a busy and exciting year and I feel that I've really got to know Seoul~even after a whole year I've never felt like I've exhausted the city and feel there is still so much I've yet to experience!! I've been lucky to make some wonderfully talented and inspiring friends here and I love this place more and more as each day passes....yayyyy excited for more adventures and exploits here in magical Seoul. I am so grateful to have this chance to be able to live in such a country that continues to interest, challenge and inspire me so much meaning that I'm super conscious of making the most of every precious moment that I have in this awesome country!!! So in a nutshell this past year... cherry blossom festivals, road trips, beautiful countryside, Korean language lessons, urban hiking (!!! in ballet shoes!!!), endless exhibitions, parks and forests, cakes and bibimbap, lotus blossom tea, bungeoppang, bingsu, climbing fortress walls, magical mystery bus trips, Korean borders, riding to the end of the subway line, trips to watch the ballet, picking persimmons, jaunts to Japan, reunions in Hong Kong, dressing up in Hanbok, climbing 'mountains', old prisons, candyfloss on Wolmido Island, sweet potatoes in Yangpyeong..... ahhh so many memories!! Anyway, I will cease rambling on and leave you with some of my favorite snaps from throughout the year including some from my travels to Japan also!!!
Happy Birthday Korea~ !!!
Love and Sparkles,