‘Munbangsau: Friends of the Scholar’ an exhibition of Korean Crafts

Dates: 24 April – 17 June 2018
Venue: Korean Cultural Centre UK, 1-3 Strand, London, WC2N 5BW

As part of the Korea/UK season, the Korean Cultural Centre UK and the Cheongju Craft Biennale present ‘Munbangsau: Friends of the Scholar’. The exhibition is based on Korea’s intangible cultural heritage munbangsau – the four essential literary tools used by Confucian scholars (seonbi) during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897 AD).

The exhibition joins the programme of London Craft Week 2018 (9-13 May), and is complemented by an opening performance by a classical geomungo (traditional Korean instrument) player, Jeong-ju Lee, at the opening reception on 23 April. A talk and a workshop will take place on 12 May, featuring master craftsmen from Chungcheongbuk-do, a province in Cheongju, Korea, renowned for the preservation of traditional Korean craftsmanship.

Munbangsau carries connotations of the moral responsibility taken on by the scholars in the creation and conservation of knowledge and the use of the tools, which consists of hanji (paper), pil (brush), meok (ink) and byeoru (inkstone).

The exhibition reflects upon the spirit of the seonbi tradition in Korea and is divided into two sections. The first part features a spectacular imaginative reconstruction of a seonbi’s room, decorated with objects handcrafted by numerous master craftsmen, including a geoumungo (traditional Korean instrument) by master Cho Jun-seok and Huh Heecheol, a folding screen by painter Han Young-hee, landscape pieces by pyrography master Kim Yeong-jo and Kim Yu-jin, wood furniture by Lee Sung-jun and Cho Seong-kook, as well as tea sets and pottery made by ceramic masters Lee Jong-sung and Lee Yae-ji.

The second part of the exhibition features demonstrations of traditional handcrafting of the munbangsau tools by the Korean paper master Ahn Chi-yong, brush master Yu Pil-moo, ink master Han Sang-mook, ink stone master Shin Myoung-sik and Shin Jae-min.

Exploring the strong cultural values associated with the seonbi tradition in Korea and its relevance today, ‘Munbangsau: Friends of the Scholar’ reveals the dynamic and longstanding history of Korean crafts and its legacy in contemporary Korea.

The exhibition is on view at the Korean Cultural Centre UK, London, from 24 April until 26 May 2018.
Co-presented by the Korean Cultural Centre UK and the Cheongju Craft Biennale Organisation as part of Korea/UK season 2017-18.

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