Inhwa Lee uses the whitest of Korean Porcelains to construct her finely wheel thrown and turned vessels, and the extremely rare Yanggu white clay in her glazes. Yanggu clay is world renowned for its beautiful purity of colour and strength when fired to high temperatures, and is found in the Bangsan Region. For hundreds of years, and within living memory, potteries were located at the foot of the mountains there. Inhwa Lee and her husband Kim Deok-ho moved to the area to study Yanggu White Clay at the Yanggu White Porcelain Centre, which was founded by Seoul University in 2013.
Before moving to Yanggu, Inhwa had clay delivered to her studio door in neat packages, and had only ever read about what the clay looked like as a raw material. When she was first able to hold some in its raw state she was truly surprised at the transformation that took place between the initial material and the clay that she’d been receiving at her studio.
Expertise and experience is required to find and process this clay. Historically, the people of Bangsan carefully mined and collected white chunks from veins of white ores that they discovered whilst wandering though the surrounding mountains and river banks. These piles of precious white chunks were then scraped away tens of thousands of times for impurities, ground by mills into fine particles and then filtered through the waters of Suipcheon River so that only the clay was left.
Inhwa says ‘It is overwhelming that Yanggu White Clay arrives in my hands after endless moments of time and techniques, gaining new possibilities through my work.
I handle the material reborn as white clay through innumerable moments of decision making. This material already has innate beauty before my touch. I am, therefore, extremely careful and prudent when handling it. I pushed myself for a long time to practice and train every day, so that the choices that I make and the techniques that I use can enhance its’ natural beauty.
Perhaps I want to realise and create timeless beauty, to be reflected in the infinite layers of time and techniques accumulated within this clay.
I managed to discover the translucency after many experiments and failures, but it was difficult to convey as succesfully as when I was with the pieces, as light is everchanging, and the translucency is only captured in fleeting moments. I now search for moments of beauty, rather than eternal beauty.
An object when removed from the kiln can be ugly, like a vegetable just taken from the soil. It has to be cleaned to be appreciated. Likewise, you have to remove the porcelain carefully from the kiln, polish the surface and gently wash the surface to reveal it’s polished and pure white surface. nd pure white surface.
I place the finished work in front of a window bathed in sunlight to take the time to contemplate the finished object, observing the light passing through the walls of the vessel and feeling the texture of the clay.
I put my hands against the sides of the object, and see the pinkish colour of my skin. I pour water into the vessel to watch the light being contained. When night falls, I watch the piece with a small candle placed inside. Whilst walking long the Suiupchon Valley behind my studio, I dream about depicting clear water on white porcelain, and when walking through snowfields imagine capturing the snowflakes on this smooth pure white surface. I realise these images through new works, placing them again by the window and contemplating them.
My works are imbued with the beauty that I encountered while living through moments in Bangsan, and when that specific moment returns through my work, time flows slowly and quietly, and that beauty lingers in my mind for a long time.
I have experienced great limitations when my works are exhibited at ‘White Cube’ galleries, with artificial lights that can’t be compared to natural daylight - neutral spaces aimed at showing works that don’t alter with the natural light at different times of day and in different seasons. My white porcelains reflect changing moments of sunrise and sunsets, and that’s why I prefer my white porcelain to be alongside someone’s life, in a home, with a gentle breeze through an open window.
I learned to live in the moment from villagers, and being surrounded by nature I feel the passing of time and seasons more clearly than I did before. I have come to see the white clay that I previously considered a workaday medium as a wonder of accumulated moments, and I treasure being able to translate such moments into my own works in white porcelain.
I have found beauty that is not eternal, but is ever changing in moments of light. I simply aspire to share these moments in the materials contained in my work, the moments in the objects, and the moments in Bangsan, with others.
Born in 1986 in Seoul
2019 Material, Moments, Lkate Gallery, Seoul, Korea
2016 Depth of Light, LVS Project, Seoul, Korea
2020 Pervade, Parksookeun Museum, Yanggu, Korea
2020 Dutch Parade, Galleria Gwnggyo, Suwon, Korea
2020 Collect, LVS Gallery Korea, Somerset House, London, UK
2019 A Place of living, Park Soo Keun Museum, Yanggu, Korea
2019 SEOBO with Galleria, Galleria, Seoul, Korea
2019 Afternoon of Seoraejae, Seoraejae, Yanggu, Korea
2019 Monochrome Momologue, Korean Cultural Center in Japan, Tokyo, Japan
2019 Monochrome Momologue, Milan Design week 2019 - Superstudio show with KCDF, Milan, Italy
2018 Gagarye, Arumjigi, Seoul, Korea
2018 Connection, Renkodo Gallery, Kyoto, Tokyo
2018 Viaje del Tiempo. Artesanía y diseño contemporáneo coreano, Centro Cultural de Corea, Buenos Aires, Argentina
2018 The Journey of Time, Korean Cultural Center Australia Gallery, Sydney, Australia
2018 Korean connection, Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland
2018 Summer of Porcelain in Yanggu – Tools for Tea, Yanggu porcelain Museum, Yanggu, Korea
2018 Yakbang, Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea
2018 Viaje del Tiempo. Artesanía y diseño contemporáneo coreano, Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, Madrid, Spain
2018 Summering, The Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation, Seoul, Korea
2018 Tools for Dringking, YEOL, Seoul, Korea
2017 TRESOR Contemporary Craft, Messe Basel, Basel, Switzerland
2017 Steel Craft –lifestyle, PoMA(Pohang Museum of Steel Art), Pohang, Korea
2017 Summer of Porcelain in Yanggu – Another Yanggu Porcelain, Yanggu porcelain Museum, Yanggu, Korea
2017 Walk in Yeonhui, Café vostok, Seoul, Korea
2017 茶境 – Work collection of tea cultural exchange exhibition, Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts, Xi'an, China
2017 SOFA Chicago 2017, Navy Pier, Chicago, USA
2017 Korean New Star Arts, Art stage, Hankyu Department store, Osaka, Japan
2017 黑·白, Babaghury, Tokyo, Japan
2017 BKV Prize, Gallery of Applied Arts, München, Germany
2017 BKV Prize, IHM, München, Germany
2017 The room of desire, Raumwerk gallery, Munchen, Germany
2016 ‘Yoonsaeng’ Project, LKATE Gallery, Seoul, Korea
2016 2016 Contemporary Ceramic Art in Asia, NTCRI, Taipei, Taiwan
2016 Make your movements : Korea contemporary objects, a new approach,
Korea Cultural Centre UK, London, UK
2016 Summer of Porcelain in Yanggu 2016, Yanggu Porcelain Museum, Yanggu, Korea
2016 Together, Lkate Gallery, Seoul, Korea
2016 Korea NOW!, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum. München, Germany
2016 Kap-Sun Hwang und seine Schüler, Galerie Handwerk, München, Germany
2016 Art Geneva 2016, Palexpo, Geneva, Swiss
2015 Craft Trend Fair 2015, Coex, Seoul. Korea
2015 Korea Now, Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France
2015 Intimacy & crafts, Mr. Kitly, Melbourne, Australia
2015 COLLECT 2015, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
2015 Masion et objet 2015, Nord Villepinte, Paris, France
2014 Craft Trend Fair 2014, Coex, Seoul, Korea
2014 SOFA Chicago 2014, Navy Pier, Chicago, USA
2014 Masion et objet 2014, Nord Villepinte, Paris, France
2014 Ceramic art, tell the future, Kyungwoon Museum, Seoul, Korea
2014 COLLECT 2014, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
2014 Beauty of Waiting, Korean Craft Museum, Cheongju, Korea
2014 Seoul Living Design fair, Coex, Seoul, Korea
2014 Warm skills, 溫技, Culture station 284, Seoul, Korea
2013 The Gift Collection, Gallery LVS, Seoul, Korea
2013 Sprout, Gallery Rubi, Tokyo, Japan
2013 SOFA Chicago 2013, Navy Pier, Chicago, USA
2013 White in White, JFChen Gallery, LA, USA
2013 The New Past, Museum of Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea
2013 White on White, Durham University. Oriental Museum, Durham, UK
2013 COLLECT 2013,, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
2013 EUTEKTIKUM, Galerie Rosemarie jager, Hochheim, Germany
2013 Seoul Living Design fair, Coex. Seoul, Korea
2012 Craft Trend Fair 2012, Coex, Seoul, Korea
2012 Becoming One with Tea, ARUMJIKI, Seoul, Korea
2012 White in White, The Second Episode, Gallery LVS, Seoul, Korea
2012 From Fürstenberg to Asia. Museum in Castle Fürstenberg, Fürstenberg, Germany
2011 The Culture of Drinking, Galerie Handwerk München, München, Germany
2011 KIEL-KELLINGHUSEN-KOREA’, Kellinghusen Museum, Kellinghusen, Germany
2011 'Tableware for one person’, LVS Craft, Seoul, Korea
2011 'Mix-up+', Bandal Art Museum, Yeoju, Korea
2011 Seoul Living Design fair, Coex, Seoul, Korea
2011 Cup 2011 – NEW DESIGN & LIMITED EDITION, LVS Craft, Seoul, Korea
2011 Internationale Handwerkmesse, München, Germany
2011 The 71’st Tokyo International Gift Show 2011 Spring, Tokyo Big Sight, Tokyo, Japan
2011 Art Stage Singapore, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
2010 Craft Trend Fair 2010, Coex, Seoul, Korea
2010 Seoul Living Design fair, Coex, Seoul, Korea
2010 5感圖’展, Museum of Art, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea
2010 Deposition, Gallery LVS, Seoul, Korea
2010 Tokyo Tableware fair, Tokyo Dorm, Tokyo, Japan
2009 Contemporary Asian Ceramics-Exchange Exhibition of New Generation, Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum, Nagoya, Japan
2018 Young Artist of the Year Award, Commendation by Minister The Government of
Republic of Korea Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Korea
2017 2nd Prize, BKV Prize, Bayerischer Kunstgewerbeverein e V. Germany
2017 Honorable Mentions, 11th International Ceramics Competition MINO, Japan
2015 Grand Prize, 'Cheongju International Craft Biennale 2015’, Korea
2015 selected, The 4th beautiful Koeran Ceramics Competition, Korea
2011 Gold Prize, ‘Cheongju International Craft Biennale 2011’, Korea
2011 Madal of D’A Magazine devoted to a young artist participating, Premio Faenza, Italy
2011 Honorable Mentions, 9th International Ceramics Competition MINO, Japan
2010 Selected, 2010 2nd GwangJu White Porcelain Competition, Korea
2009 Selected, ‘Cheongju International Craft Biennale 2009', Korea
2009 Selected, The 2nd Beautiful Korean Ceramics Competition
(World Ceramic Exposition Foundation), Korea
Victoria & Albert Museum, Lodon, UK
Yanggu Porcelain Museum, Yanggu, Korea
Durham University Oriental Museum, Durham, UK
Museum of Modern Ceramic Art, Gifu, Japan
Cheongju International Craft Biennale, Cheongju, Korea
Amore pacific Museum, Seoul, Korea
2011 - M.F.A in Ceramics, Faculty of Crafts & Design, College of Fine Arts,
Seoul National University, Korea, Supervising Professor: Kapsun Hwang.
2009 – B.F.A in Ceramics, Faculty of Crafts & Design, College of Fine Arts,
Seoul National University, Korea, Supervising Professor: Kapsun Hwang