“Living Heritage”, An Exhibition of Intangible Heritage Properties produced by twenty-five of Korea’s finest Master Craftsmen and Women

Date: 29 June ~ 21 July 2009 (The Official opening reception of the exhibition is on the 29th June 2009 from 18.30)
Venue: Korean Cultural Centre UK, Ground Floor, Grand Buildings, 1 – 3 Strand, London, WC2N 5BW

The title Living Heritage is one given by UNESCO that refers to the most fragile of cultural assets: the collective knowledge behind the expressions, beliefs, rituals, dance, music, cuisine, customs and skills of each community. KCC has brought together a vast range of beautiful pieces from 25 Korean masters, each revealing an essence of Korea through its supreme craftsmanship. The pieces will include the finest examples of textiles, ceramics, paintings, silver work, furniture and traditional beverages to name but a few. The Centre will not only be showcasing the work of these masters but also offering an insight into the traditional methods, immense skill and years of training that is behind this level of craftsmanship. The skills used by these craftsmen and women are skills which are dear to Koreans, they represent a link and a connection to our past. Korea has a long history of arts and crafts, a fact that is sometimes forgotten in the face of rapid economic development and mass production. From the arts and crafts, it is the lacquer-ware which comes to the forefront of one’s mind; the skills behind the traditional Korean lacquer-ware reach back over two millennia. The sap of the lacquer tree is extracted and used to coat the most delicate of pieces that once dried creates a gloss and a colour that surpasses other materials. With two thousand years of history looking down on these masters, they understand all too well the importance of passing their skills and knowledge onto the next generation; knowing that should they fail to do so it will be the judgement of history that falls upon their shoulders. 

The introduction of these cultural master-pieces also offers a wonderful opportunity for designers and artists in the UK to take inspiration from the majesty of these pieces and also to learn from the wisdom of the Korean masters. It is the goal of this ‘Living Heritage’ exhibition to remind the visitor of the traditional skills inherent in each nation and to reveal the fragility of these skills; may exhibitions such as this long keep these skills alive.

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