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Unit 0ne
critical reflection  >> CONTEXT


Design triangle

 K - Art and Hanji

This project started with knowledge of Korean art traditions. For the summer project, before starting the MA course, I visited Korea, toured Korean art exhibitions, and researched Korean art materials. I tried to gradually develop ideas from the Korean art through integrated research on Korean art to incorporate a British spirit into ideas in Korean art. Until recently, I have practised Korean painting, printmaking, and crafts, with Korean paper. Because I am interested in material language and cross cultural discourse.


 Close up image, Korean muk(ink) on Hanji                                                  Sing with hope again(2021), Korean painting, ink, on Hangi                             Close up image, Korean painting, ink, on Hangi


 Embossing and etching print on Hanji                             Butterfly's love looking for the flower(2022),  Etching print on Hanji                                          Close up image, Etching print, on Hangi

Examples of my previous work using Hanji

At the beginning in this project, I started by representing traditional Korean paintings with printing techniques (refer to documentation, poppy and butterfly paintings), because I wanted to test how various printing techniques and pigments react to Hanji. Also, I wanted to get ideas from traditional Korean art and develop it into a contemporary art concept. I inserted a butterfly in the poppy image using hanji chine colle technique referencing to Nam Gye-woo's butterflies and flower paintings. I chose obang seak (the five colours) used in Korean traditional paintings for hanji chine colle. Because it is to reflect the uniqueness of the tradition Korean painting. What is uniqueness of Korean paintings? It is a soft line and five colours. Chinese paintings have bold lines, while Korean paintings have soft lines, Japanese paintings use various colours, but  Korean paintings have used five colours. "The uniqueness of Korean painting is “the soft line like a Korean pot, five colours, drawing lines starting from plum, orchid, chrysanthemum, bamboo.” ( C S Park, 2022)


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  Butterfly and flowing painting by Nam gye, Joseon Korea, 19th centry

Hanji and Materiality

Next step, I explored the uniqueness of Hanji. Hanji is the name of Korean traditional handmade paper. It is made of the inner bark of mulberry, a Korean tree. It is strong and tough enough to be preserved for over 1,000 years. Hanji goes beyond the function of paper. Why is Korean Paper unique? It is made by Korean Mulberry tree and the fibre that is called dak, and has unique properties for the paper. I started approaching contrast concept by exploring the conflicting materiality of paper and metal. (refer to documentation, 2. Dak). I got an idea from dak properties and approached the ideas of fragility and strength. This is because the materiality of Hanji is significant to me, I wanted to highlight the message by combining strong materials. I believe that materiality can give a unique meaning to the works of art. Furthermore, I examined the characteristics and utility of Hanji as I wanted to develop an idea because it was judged that I could use Hanji for creative activities beyond painting elements in my practice. In conclusion, in contemporary art, as found,  Hanji functions beyond paper, so I developed the idea with Hanji for creating unique artworks. (refer to documentation, 8. Hanji craft)


 Hanji, dak papers

Characters of Hanji

.Conservation for over a thousand years – Hanji can be preserved for more than 1,000 years. In recognition of its excellence in preservation abroad, Korean paper was used to restore Leonardo da Vinci’s works in Italy.

Excellent eco-friendliness and antibacterial properties - Unlike artificial pulp species, Hanji is a harmless plant fibre and does not destroy the environment as a non-wooden paper. Korean paper can be constructed with flour glue if used as wallpaper, so it is not harmful and is good for rhinitis or dry skin as it controls humidity. In addition, it is breathable and deodorising, so ventilation is good.

Warmth – Hanji has a suitable space between fibres, so it automatically creates warmth. If a window is applied to the door frame, the temperature in the room does not react sensitively to the outside temperature even in the cold winter, so the indoor temperature can be maintained.

High durability. – Hanji is made of mulberry fibre. According to a traditional science and technology survey, compared to the 3mm fibre length of coniferous trees such as fir and pine trees, which are materials of chemical pulp, mulberry trees are three times longer at 10mm, and fibre tissue is dense like nets, so they are resistant to external shocks. Therefore, in the Joseon Dynasty, Korean paper was attached in layers to use as an amour, hence the arrow was impossible to pierce it.

Natural fibre – It has a tough enough property to wash and rewrite. Typical paper has a maximum preservation period of about 200 years, while Korean paper can be preserved for more than a thousand years. This can be seen from the relics called “Mugu Jeonggwang Daeranigyeong,” which is excellent in storage even though it is over 1,000 years old.

Daily necessities made using Korean paper - Hanji is used as a window paper by applying Hanji to the door or window because it prevents wind and cold well and maintains the warmth and humidity of the room. In addition, Korean paper is being reborn as a traditional craft, and typical examples include a lamp that gently illuminates the light of a light bulb and a paper doll made of Korean paper.

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 Hanbok clothing crafted from Korean traditional hanji paper featured in Paper Road XIII – Washington, D.C. 2022. 


Book: Yeonhee K & Sungmo, J. (2018), Forktail Meet the Modern Joseon Dynasty Flowing Paintings, Dahal Media.

YouTube: Conversation Korean Hanji Paper Making


Book: Horlyck, C. (2017) Korean art from the 19th Centre to the precent, London Reaktion Ltd


E-book: Hanji fashion show by Korean Cultural Foundation Followthis, 2012

Web: .

  Materiality and contrast concept 


  Bloom by Katie Spragg, UK, 2016

Fragility and strength

I became interested in the importance of materiality in works of art. From the inspired of fragility and strength in Hanji, I approached the idea of contrast concept. Katie Spragg creates an "environment" by creating intimate plant-themed work. Behind each piece is a story, or collection of stories, that is essential to her creative process.  Her work celebrates the vitality of wild plants with concrete and porcelain clay. Also, it explores our relationship with nature; specifically, the ways that humans and plants co-exist. I am interested in talking about inspiration from observing nature and its embodiment in figurative strands. My image is simple, but the context is a poetic expression that contains many meanings. Poetry is the same as symbolic language and connotations. Just as Katie Spragg created an environment by creating a plant work that blooms in cement, and there are a collection of stories in her creative process, I observe natural forms and capture beauty in them to form poetic expressions. My poetic expressions are not always obvious to audience but I regard them as essential to my work. 

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Flowers in full bloom preserved in silicone, UK, 2000

Technology and Nature
Mark Quinn preserved the blooming flowers with silicon in the 2000 Frozen Flower Project. Real flowers in perfect condition are placed in frozen silicone oil. His claim; real flowers in a perfect state of bloom have been plunged into frozen silicone oil. As the flowers freeze, they die, but in doing so, they become a perfect, eternal image of themselves, and so the sculptures arise. When a real flower in perfect condition is perpetuated by an artist like Mark Quinn, it leads to a magical change. He attempted to perpetuate the perfect form of flowers accumulated.

Just as he worked on preserving the perfect form of flowers forever with silicon, I used PVA to preserve the colour in autumn leaves. And it attempted to discover the value of beauty between the Arum-like aspect of nature changed by human technology and the beautiful aspect of nature as it is.

Unlike Quinn's aim for the exact expression of reality's perfection and natural beauty, I focused on the imperfections of reality and the irreconcilable expression of natural forms. This is because I explored that the colour of autumn leaves can be preserved through the experiment below, but I think the beauty of nature itself, contrary to the concept of perfect form of beauty, is on the ecological aesthetics of torn leaves . It is not a technology that processes artifacts by putting them in, but I embodied images in poetic expression by taking ideas from the vitality of nature that falls, dies and disappears, but is reborn (refer to documentation, 6. Falling leaves). What is beauty of Nature? I believe it is a strong vitality that comes from the cycle of nature.

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 Preserved with PVA                                                                                                                                        

Experiment  for the preservation  of colours of Nature

                                                                                                                                     change in colours                                                                                                                                    

 Beauty and Nature 


Creeping Buttercup. by Michal Landy 2002

Torn and stepped plants

This print depicts a creeping buttercup or Ranunculus repens. One of the most elaborate weeds in the portfolio, it extends in a wide composition with stems arching off to the left and right of the page. Several small flowers emerge from the end of the stems, in various states of decay. These slowly dying blooms indicate the passage of time during the making of the etching. Delicate, pale leaves cluster above the elaborate root ball and at the joints of the branches, while fibrous roots extend from a mass at the base of the leaves.'(Rachel Taylor 2003. Tate)

Michael Landy in his series of drawings, Nourishment (2023),  collected weeds growing on the streets of London, kept them alive and then drew them life size. Inspired by his selection of humble weeds as the subject of the plant world's weakness, I began to observe torn and stepped leaves on asphalt that might not be considered beautiful in the natural world. Exploring the ecological aesthetics of torn real-sized leaves (refer to documentation, torn leaves), I tried to find the meaning of life.  What is life? I believe it's still a beautiful thing, even though it's torn and stepped on.


Oak III  by Ellsworth Kelly (1992), lithography,                                                 Grape Leaves III by Ellsworth Kelly (1973-74),  lithography                                      Wild Grape Leaves II by  Ellsworth (2004), lithography

Essential beauty and Minimalize 

Ellsworth Kelly has always been drawn to nature, he draw simple plant and seaweed forms. In his drawing of fruits, flowers and leaves Kelly’s concern is with the essence of each plant, and in their purity of line and shape these lithographic drawings provide a critical link to the character of his abstraction. 

Kelly has the art of creating monumental visual statements using shapes, colors, spaces, and lines.

I expressed the essential beauty of the leaves in lines and forms based on his keen spatial sensitivity and his understanding of the fusion of these elements. (refer to documentation, 6. Life & 7. Dancing leaves),

Nature and life


 A poem , by William Wordsworth ( 1804 ), image by internet poem                                                                                   poem  by John Donne ( 1633 ), image by internet poem

Beauty and life 

 “The very essence of God’s reality is the intratrinitarian love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” (Jonathan Edwards, 2003)

I wanted to study the nature of life a little more deeply. Therefore, I looked at Jonathan Edward's Trinity theology, inspired by John Dunn's poem Holy Sonnet, while appreciating the invisible world through metaphysical poems. What is the beauty? In this project, I started by looking into the contrast concept of beauty. I broke the idea of universal beauty seen in the natural world and rethought the concept of beauty from the leaves that rot and disappear on the earth. Furthermore, the invisible eternal world was inferred from the visible real world. 


Love is


Endurance is bitter

But fruit is sweet

Life is


Even if it's stepped on and torn,


Beauty is


It is not perfect.

But still beautiful

The above poem is my self-written poem, inspired by William Wordsworth's nature, romantic poetry and metaphysical poems of the 17th century. and it is also my conclusion that I learned through the research of this project. In the early stages of the project, I wanted to reflect the British spirit in my work, so I found it in the classical and Christian spirit before Britain became international and modernized. In this project, the texts were not reflected in my practice, but I finally created the poem because I plan to try to insert texts and create images as I move to Unit 2.



Book: John D (2001), John Dunne's divine poem, Chungdong, ISBN : 9788988286555

Text: George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: (2003), A Life ,New Haven: Yale University, p191.


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