Friday 22 March 2013

Pink Rice Cakes, Palaces and Bungeoppang!!!!

Ooohhh Hiya from South Korea!!!
So yesterday I took the chance to get out and about in the city....I've been very much the hermit over the past week and next week is going to be hardcore in terms of my to-do list for my projects ~ so this was a golden opportunity to go and check out some palaces and the likes in Seoul with Angie, another of the fellow artists in residence here!!! It was a wake up at 6.30am type of day as there was so much we wanted to squeeze in yesterday....of course we stopped for coffee and a yummy pastry en route just to get the day started!!!  
Firstly we went to Changdeokgung Palace and the Secret Garden which was amazing... we took a tour around the grounds which was great and I absolutely loved this favourite so far! So many amazing colours!!!! We also went for an AWESOME vegan lunch at the Templestay Centre which I was super excited about!! Best meal EVER!!! To round off lunch we went to check out the nearby Jongye Sa Temple which was of my favourite places I've been to since arriving here in South Korea... there were colourful lanterns galore and it was such a beautiful building...we were lucky that a ceremony was going on as we were there so that was pretty incredible to see!
We spent some serious time checking out the local area as there is tonnes to see around here and then came the total highlight of my day.... in the afternoon we were ready for a tea and cake break and we stumbled across the 'Jilsiru Tteok Cafe' a place serving  traditional Korean rice cakes.... this place was amazing....fake flowers and wooden pews galore...kind of reminded me of a weird wedding venue! They had endless varieties of tea and rice cakes.....mugwort, sweet pumpkin, ume blossom, matcha.... there was so much to choose from, so we pretty much picked one of everything and then settled down with our tea to start ploughing through all of the flavours!! The ume blossom was the ultimate favourite ~ all cute and pink in the shape of a flower!!!

Also slipped in a visit to the Jongymo Shrine before going for a bit of a shopping session.... It was then I came across a treat I've been in search of for 3 solid weeks.... I finally found Bungeoppang!!!! These are the sweet waffles in the shape of a fish filled with red bean paste, served warm!! I was obsessed with them when I was in Japan and when I heard they also have them here in Korea, I have been on the trail to find them ever since arriving!!! I was SOOO happy when I spotted them! Anyway I shall leave you with a few more photos as it's off to bed for me!!! Until next time!Love Emma xxxxx

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Sewing in Dreamland...

It's a lovely blue sky, sunshine filled day here in South Korea....yet it is FREEEEZING outside and mega windy...I skipped out totally dressed for a Spring time occasion...and I almost came home with frostbite...Ok, well slight exaggeration....but it's SUPER chilly out there today!
So I don't have too much juicy gossip I'm afraid, sorry but no excitement of magical palaces or Hello Kitty cafes today! This past few days or so I have mainly been at one with my desk, working away on my project and trying to process all of my research and the million new ideas that I have! I really love it here and it's such an amazingly intense new environment for me so it feels like every day I see something or someone that gives me new ideas and themes that I want to explore....
It's been really nice to just sit here working quietly....well not so quietly as of course the 'Party Mix' has been playing on repeat....but to just spend some time totally dedicated to my project without any distractions. It is also a good time to slowly work my way through every instant drink in a sachet that is available as I am OBSESSED with all of these special flavours! To date the best ones have included Sweet Potato Latte, Pumpkin & Yam and my current favourite is Walnut and Job's Tears tea... of course nothing is quite as supreme as a nice Matcha latte....that will ALWAYS take some beating!

When I've not been doing studio work I've been continuing to document the area around IAP and Incheon in there have been some nice, super early mornings (as I'm STILL unable to sleep!) spent with the sketchbook in nearby Jayu Park which is really lovely...although it requires me to whip out the fingerless gloves and take hot coffee with me as its gets pretty cold up on that hill at that hour! I really love the surrounding residential areas around the park as there are plenty of winding streets and some great views across the colourful rooftops of the city....I love this photo above as there was a little dog keeping watch on my movements in case I tried to sneak into those ceramic pots there! As part of my research I've been looking into Korean quilting so all of these great, patchwork type, rooftop views offer plenty of food for thought!
This week I've also been focusing on setting the ball rolling with some collaborations that I have planned as part of the latter parts of my projects here, so I'm massively excited to get teaming up with new creatives around Seoul and Incheon as well as get cracking with a couple of other exciting bits and pieces that I've got planned!!! I'm always on the lookout for new photographers, MUAs, potential collaborators etc, so anyone who is interested and based in the area, feel free to drop me a line via my website!
Today I'm working on some sampling for my textile work so this evening I will be continuing to do a spot of applique and crochet and also going to be getting to grips with the finer points of how fishing nets are constructed...hardcore.....
Ok, so back to the grind...I think that's all the updates for now!!!
Catch you laterzzzz!!!
Emma xxxxx

Friday 15 March 2013

Fabric Sourcing in the Magical Markets of Seoul!

Happy afternoon from sunshine filled Incheon!!!!
Yesterday I put in some hardcore hours trawling around the wonderful sea of fabrics at Dongdaemun Market in Seoul which was an incredible experience!!! This place was AMAZINGG and somewhat overwhelming....
I think I could easily spend 3 days straight in there and still be finding new treasures!!! I'm now in the stages of sourcing all of my materials for my new series of works that I will be producing here during my time as Artist in Residence with Incheon Art Platform. I must apologise in advance for the bad photos of blurry doom have no idea of the mayhem in there so there was no chance of getting the big camera out and I had to quickly snap only the quietest of aisles before I was next jostled by the crowds or a guy carrying stacks of fabric rolls on his shoulders!!! Hence the rubbish photos, swiftly snapped in stealth mode on my phone amongst hands filled with swatches!!! Had I attempted to whip out the photos in the thick of it I would probably have been lynched by angry shoppers!!!
As I say it was a total bunfight in there...totally AWESOME!!! There was a whole load of trade activity going on so phones galore being tossed back and forth, fashion students, local designers, sourcers from factories etc! The language barrier was easily quashed when the merchants ended up calling their friends and kids so that they could translate what I was saying! This place is HUGE and like a labyrinth of dreams...aisle upon aisle of incredible fabrics....every colour, texture and print you could ever imagine! The first couple of floors are dedicated to fabrics, mainly printed cottons, chiffon, jersey and denims, and as you go higher in the building there are also floors full of every trim, accessory and binding that you could EVER imagine!!!!! There were some awesome colours going on...phantasmagorical rainbow style~ I've noticed A LOT of neon around here both in the fabric centre and in the clothing in the shopping districts, likewise with the traditional Hanbok tailors, there is no neon there but, some wonderful high-colour combos in the mix! For my project, I am mainly working on a colour palette that manipulates the natural tones identified in my field research and inverts them into a highly saturated palette, so I'm massively excited by all the materials I have discovered here and can't wait to work with medium sourced only from South Korea. I spent hours collecting swatches and the photo you can see above of some of the more colourful findings is only the tip of the iceberg....I came home dragging a couple of big bags full to the rafters of samples and options so I'm looking forward to sorting through them all this evening~most likely whilst listening to a bit of K-Pop as it's going to be a LONGGGGG night!!!!! The upper floors of the market were equally as dreamy....I found some amazing jewellery bits and bobs....chain, piping and hardware accessories...cute plastic stuff for costume jewellery....outrageous amounts of ribbon and binding in every colour and finish imaginable...eeesh, so much....I have a lot of food for thought before I go back and tackle actually picking up all of my materials!!! But, I'm super excited at getting cracking with everything as I feel mega inspired after the past few days of research and the fabric market trip so can't wait to get the needle and thread out this weekend!!!
Ok, so that's all for now!!!!
Toodle pip!
Love and Sparkles,
Emma xxxx

Thursday 14 March 2013

Rocking around Seoul with Hello Kitty and Vegan Noodles!

Ooooohh Hiya!!!
Today has been one of my favourite days since I arrived here in S.Korea! I was up mega early this morning to go and crack on with some research and fabric sourcing in Seoul....
En route I hit up the Hongdae area to check out some of the fashion stores and have a general peruse around the area! I LOVED it here! There are some awesome little stores, plenty of independent boutiques and an outrageous abundance of really cute clothing and accessory shops! 
I guess I would most liken it to a 'kind-of' Seoul version of Harajuku...with a slightly different crowd as the area is located close to Hongik University so it's a bit more studenty and less 'Kawaiiiiii'~with tonnes of colourful street art!!!! I spotted some real gems there so hopefully at some point during my stay here I will have the time to go and do some hardcore shopping!!!!
Imagine my joy when LOW AND BEHOLD I ended up at the Hello Kitty Cafe!!!! I'd been planning on going to another branch in the city for afternoon coffee so I was super surprised when I spotted the Hongdae cafe all pink and sparkly, twinkling in the corner of my eye! Obviously I was straight in there....WHAT A TREAT!!!! Ever since visiting the Taipei Hello Kitty Cafe, I'm obsessed with tracking down ALLLLL of the Kitty cafes and word on the street is there are several around I guess this will not be the last time you see photos of this ilk!!!!

Sorry about the Kitty overload but, I can't help myself! I was way too excited!!! I mean I even got a Kitty face stencilled onto my drink....TOTALLY GOURMET!!!!! Anyway....after the hullabaloo of the cafe I took a walk to another area of the city called Sinchon to check out an art shop for some material supplies on the was such a lovely sunny day today so it was nice to kind of get a better grasp of the city... found a couple of corkers on my way....
I finally tracked down some dreammmmyyy vegan food for lunch after pinpointing every branch of 'Loving Hut' in Seoul on my map! I've been hot on the trail of this AMAZINNNGG veggie chain ever since I first discovered it in Vienna....this one was called the 'Rainbow' cafe and it was great because they have a load of Korean dishes like kimchi (without the sneaky fish!), Tteokbokki and a load of clay pot dishes which usually I can't sample because of the meat factor!!! They also have a decent selection of stuff you can buy to cook at home like vegan instant noodles and soy items which I totally stocked up on as it's quite tricky for me here to find stuff that I know is veggie safe!!! So now I have noodles galore sitting on my desk!!!
Afterwards I then pretty much spent the majority of today at the fabric market in Dongdaemun, beginning to source the materials for my project..... eeeessshhh this place is HUGE.... one of the best fabric markets I have ever been to EVER.....floor upon floor of fabrics, trimmings, jewellery, ribbons, bindings, chains, rhinestones, name it.... I found so many amazing things and now I'm sitting listening to Britney amongst a pile of swatches the size of Mount Fuji.... But...I'm going to save the fabric market trip for a separate blog as it totally warrants it's own post!!!!
Finally I shall leave you with a picture of the lovely red rose that I got today.....unfortunately this wasn't a gift from a hot boy in a K-Pop was actually handed out as part of a special promo event celebrating 'White Day'....(the follow up to Valentine's Day that they do here!)
Love and Sparkles,

Wednesday 13 March 2013

'2013 PLATFORM ACCESS' Preview Exhibition!

Hellooo !!!!! 
So, at the end of last week a new preview exhibition opened here at Incheon Art Platform featuring introductions to the work of the artists in residence who will be based here over the upcoming year. The '2013 Platform Access' Preview opened last Thursday and will run until 26th May, so if you happen to be in town you can pop along and check it out!!! You can see most of the works of both the Korean and International artists in Hall B and I have some digital images showing in Hall A which is open daily 10-6pm!!!! Last Thursday IAP hosted an official opening ceremony for visitors to come and listen to all of the artists introduce their work and afterwards there was a party for everyone to meet each other, the IAP team and fellow artists (which included strawberries in cups and cute biscuits!!!!!).
Also all of the promo materials about the exhibition are here which show all of the artist's work and give a bit of background information about their creative practice! 
You can see a sneaky peek of my stuff in the exhibition catalogue in the photo below (the work featured is my '16th Century Wall Weaver' installation that I produced during my previous residency with 'Guestroom Maribor' in Slovenia)
....and I now have my new business cards for whilst I'm here which even have my name on in Korean characters....yeah, that's pretty exciting!!!!!
It's been really great using IAP as a base to begin my research as it's a really nice environment to 
work in and now I am currently in the process of starting with some textile sampling that I am developing from my research so far....Ok, so I shall leave you with a few photos as it's off to bed for me ready for an early start fabric sourcing tomorrow!!!!
Night Night!!!
Love Emma xxx

Monday 11 March 2013

The DELIGHT of a Korean Funfair!!!!!

It's no secret that I LOVE a good funfair.....back when I was living in Vienna I could be found lurking around the Prater almost every night of the imagine my happiness when I discovered my first Korean funfair....what's even better is that it's only a short walk away from where I'm living!!!
My main focus whilst I'm based here in the city before I go off site with my project is to really understand and experience the essence of Incheon so my plans at the moment are to take my research all over the city and look at the different areas and districts...
Over the weekend I went to 'Wolmido', or 'Wolmi Island' as it's also known (FYI 'do' means island!). The weather was GLORIOUS to the point I could even ditch my coat! My first port of call was to check out Wolmi Park which is a nice set of traditional Korean gardens and buildings before heading to the Marina and 'Wolmi Culture Street'.
The island has a huge, colourful fairground which was my main reason for was awesome and there was even a 'TAGADA'!!!There was loads of cute couples there on dates, eating candyfloss and plenty of families and people fishing on the nearby rocks!Tonnes of rides, snack stalls, arcade games and kiosks selling rainbow coloured balloons and foil toy windmills!!! Super loud K-Pop playing from every speaker going and a zillion fish restaurants!
The marina looks out over the sea so there was lots of boats coming in and out and as it was the weekend the place was rammed!
It's interesting to see that no matter where you go in the world that funfairs are much of a likeness only with their own bit of 'local~ness' in Vienna there was the Käsekrainer and here they rock out the long skinny bits of dried squid?!?! was awesome...I totally want to go there EVERY day!!!! a few photos of the delights....

After I'd eaten so much candyfloss and fried sweet potato products that I felt sick, I took a venture through the backstreets into the residential areas and found some really cool stuff.... the local housing areas are really quiet and I noticed that people had 'customised' their houses?!?! On the outside walls of their homes people had painted them all muliti-coloured, with cartoons and murals, totally AMAZINGGGG!!!!!! Someone had even painted a 'Rugrats' picture!!!!
I really like that everyone makes their homes so personal...and I loved that even the quiet back streets were so fun and colourful!...I even found a graveyard of old fairground rides in someone's back garden!!!!
There was also a scenario when I was on my way back to Incheon....I popped into the 'Traditional Culture Display' and next thing I knew, a woman was dressing me up in full traditional Korean National Dress!!!! Robes....wig....everything and a few 'special poses'.....what a beaut....I'll be keeping those photos to myself thanks~sorry ha ha!!! that's all for now about my fairground doubt I will be going back for more Korean Seaside fun...ermmmm more than a few times!!!!!
Love and Sparkles,
Emma xxxx