Reminiscences and Reflections

11 February – 26 March 2016

Mi-Kyung Myung

Reflective Dreams 1 , Traditional Handmade Paper, 2015, Image: David Paterson

Reminiscences and Reflections  by Dr Sally Blake

In her exhibition Reminiscences and Reflections Mi-Kyung Myung is exploring and bringing together her experiences of living in both East Asian and Western Cultures, in Korea and Australia. She draws on landscape, architecture and traditional Korean craft practices for inspiration and has used handmade Korean papers to weave, stitch and knot three series of work.

Myung's patient and considered approaches to making are evident in all her works, with her dedication to craft processes apparent. Through repetitive making she has created layers of texture and colour in a series of four works inspired by traditional Korean costume. Her colour choices speak of the two cultures and countries that she is reflecting upon. Safe Ground for example, has been created from colours she understands to be Korean and for Secret Passage she has used ochres and earth colours that are associated with some Australian landscapes.

Reflective Dreams is a series of fourteen layered paper drawings, the images created by hand-stitching layers of coloured, geometric shapes. Each work is complete in itself and when hung together they present a medley of themes—there are hints of landscape and the modern architectural elements which influence her work. Where reflection is used in the imagery a link is made between the exhibition's overall theme and the individual works.

Although these works are made in paper they retain a strong connection to textiles, in particular the Korean quilt or pojagi tradition. Pojagis are an ancient art form and they were made to wrap, carry and store household items. Myung says that, 'traditional women's crafts were historically devalued.' By working in paper she undermines the functional and utilitarian nature of the wrapping cloths, and as a result reinterprets traditional crafts into works to be considered symbolically and aesthetically.

In the final works, Reminiscence Blue and Reminiscence Brown Myung returns to her woven and knotted techniques, and the form of these works is a reference to traditional Korean ceramics. Here, her use of colour continues to be refined and confident and creates visual connections between each body of work in the exhibition.

Myung uses repetitive and time-consuming craft practices. The use of repetitive making is discussed by art historian Claire Pajaczkowska when she describes how textile games, skills and practices (such as cat's cradle, skipping and knitting) are used throughout a person's lifetime in the creation of self. Of knitting she writes, "the rhythmic repetition of the simple actions absorbs the free, floating anxiety and allows the knitter's mind to roam freely across the landscape of thought. The knitting allows the hands to worry away productively."[1] The repetitive practices of textile making give Myung time for contemplation, time to reminisce and reflect upon the work at hand, and her movement between two cultures and countries.

This exhibition is an example of the capacity for repetitive making to free the mind to roam across thought. Wherever one looks in this exhibition there is imagery and colours which evoke the two cultures and countries which Myung has called home.

Dr Sally Blake is a freelance researcher and artist.