London Art Spot: Ji Seon Kim

Emptying her vivid imagination onto each large canvas she paints, Ji Seon invites us into a world that resembles this one but truly exists only in her head. With a vibrant palette she works with sweeping brushstrokes, a concern for space and a flair for creating texture in her landscapes. She wants her work to evoke feelings of displacement and loneliness, and the sheer size of the canvas mixed with the deserted scenery does make you realise that there is a massive world out there.

Her recent work draws on inspiration from traditional watercolour painting from her native South Korea and she has a show on in Hoxton at the moment with two other South Korean artists.

For this week’s London Art Spot, Ji Seon talks about a certain beautiful place in London that she would love to paint, tells us where she finds inspirateion for her landscapes and what to expect at her exhibition.

LLO:Which aspects of London life most influence your creativity and in which way?
JS: I have enjoyed living in London for the past 6 years. I think London is a really great city in which I have great experiences, in urban life, and historical and natural landscape. This environment in London motivates and inspires my work. It is also easy to access plenty of interesting exhibitions in London. The intriguing shows open up new possibilities of exploring and developing my practice as well.

LLO: Give us an overview of your working process, from initial idea to final painting.
JS: First, I try to decide which kind of space I would like to paint referring to landscapes I remember from my previous travelling experiences and image books, especially travel magazines. After words, I purely use my imagination to describe the place, and paint my imaginary world.

LLO: Which piece are you most proud of at the moment and why?
JS: If I have to choose one painting, it would be “Orange Cliffs and White Crystal”, because I feel that this painting is more realised in connection with the main concept, which is about playing with marks and colours in an imagery landscape.
LLO: You work with a lot of vibrant colours in scenery that would in real life be quite subdued. What does this add to your landscapes?
JS: I am very interested in creating an imaginary landscape in an artificial way, so I always use really bright and powerful colours in my painting.

LLO: Do you find that your South Korean background inspires your work?
JS: I have produced paintings using different aspects of a Korean sense of space and a western sense of perspective. One of the most significant influences is Korean traditional landscape painting, so I have tried to mix between this influence from my background and my understanding of contemporary western art.

LLO: Your latest work revolves around imaginary landscapes. Is there a place in London that you would like to paint using a similar approach and technique?
JS: I really like Holland Park, particularly Kyoto garden. It is a really beautiful place to get inspirations and motivation for my works.

LLO:Other London-based artists you admire?
JS: Peter Doig. His use of colours and his technique are so interesting and impressive.

LLO: You recently finished your BA in Fine Art from Slade. What are your plans for 2011?
JS: I have just started Master course at Slade from this September 2010. The Master at slade is 2-years course, so I will keep continuing to study this course in 2011. Plus, I am plannig to have an exhibition in Seoul, South Korea in July or August, 2011.

LLO: You have an exhibition from 2-23 December at Arch 402 in Hoxton with artists Gyeong Yoon An and Chinwook Kim. What can we expect from the show?
JS: When I was a BA student, Gyeong Yoon An and Chinwook Kim were MFA students at Slade. At the time, I just thought their works were very interesting, but I couldn’t find any connection between my painting and their works. When we decided to have the show “Imaginary Landscape” at Arch402 and put our works all together, I was so surprised that we do have really a huge connection, which is that our works are coming from our own imagination and delivering viewers into our imaginations, so people can feel and see our imagination world.

LLO: What are you working on now?
JS: I am making a huge imaginary landscape painting as usual. In order to do more challenge with my painting, I am exploring the intersection of abstraction and representation through the imaginary landscape.

Thanks Ji Seon!

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

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Listen to a Londoner: Steve Slack

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you want to be interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk.

Steve Slack, 30

Steve is a writer and researcher working in the cultural heritage sector. He writes audioguides and museum interpretation and is currently writing a book about what happiness means to us in a modern context.
He blogs at www.steveslack.co.uk

LLO: Tell us a bit about The Happiness Project you’re working on at the moment.
SS:
Happiness is an enormous subject. It’s vast. The more I learn about it, the more questions I have. Down the ages, the great and the good have tried to get to grips with happiness. What is it? How we define it? Thinkers and writers have produced millions of pages on this subject – so much so that I wonder if it’s worth even trying to answer such a huge question that seeks to define happiness in broad terms. Instead, I’m interested in what makes us happy as individuals. So, I started looking at some historical characters and tried to find out what they said about happiness – Aristotle, Henry VIII, Churchill. I found that an understanding of happiness is contextual – to truly appreciate what makes someone happy, one has to understand the world they live in. So one aspect of this project is looking back at some figures from history who’ve had something interesting to say about happiness. These are juxtaposed with the modern section, which involves me going and interviewing lots of people from different walks of life today, asking them what happiness means to them and what makes them happy. The idea is to build up a picture of what happiness might mean to us in a modern context [http://steveslack.co.uk/happiness-project/part-two-contemporary/].

LLO: How do you choose who to interview for your project and what has the response been like so far?
SS: I’ve been interviewing people who have something interesting to say. To be fair, every single person has a unique perspective on happiness – there are no two answers the same. But for this project I’m trying to find people who have a unique contribution. I’ve had to rein it in somewhat, so I’m now looking for people who are living in the UK today. I’ve spoken with a Holocaust survivor, a homeless guy, Woman Farmer of the Year, a hip-hop MC, a psychiatrist, a Buddhist writer, a blind extreme sport enthusiast and more. People are really happy to put their minds to my questions and to talk. After I’ve interviewed them I write up their answers and edit it into a post for the website [http://steveslack.co.uk/happiness-project/].

LLO: Any thoughts on the general state of happiness among Londoners? What could we do to be a bit more cheerful?
SS:
Londoners love to have a grumble about the city. It’s expensive, it’s dirty, the infrastructure is ageing and the people are rude. But that’s only one perspective. I’ve lived in London for 12 years and I find that while some of that is true, London is still the greatest city in the world in terms of inspiration and creativity. There’s so much to do here, you can never complain of being bored. From bars and clubs, shopping, some of the best food in the world to an unrivalled cultural scene. I’ve worked in the museum sector for about a decade and I find there’s so much here to keep me going.

There’s a great blog called the Happiness Project London [http://thehappinessprojectlondon.wordpress.com/] which celebrates all of these things and more. It’s a celebration of all the wonderful things to do here and it’s great way to make sure we don’t take London for granted.

LLO: Is there a place you’ve found in London that always seems to make you happy?
SS:
I have a favourite picture in the National Gallery that always makes me happy. It’s a picture of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza by Honoré-Victorin Daumier  [http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/honore-victorin-daumier-don-quixote-and-sancho-panza] – I don’t know what it is about the painting, but it does something very strange to me. I can stand in front of it for ages and never get bored; I’m just content and happy. I find the combination of colours very relaxing and pleasing and the overlapping lines of the picture never cease to interest me. The rest of the world seems to disappear whenever I’m in the room with it. If I’ve got five minutes spare and I’m near the Gallery, I’ll pop in and have a quick look. My partner recently bought me a framed print of the picture. That made me enormously grateful that someone had gone to the trouble to think about what makes me happy.

LLO: Working in the museum/heritage sector, which London museum is your favourite and can you recommend a good one that’s a bit quirky or out of the ordinary?
SS: The Geffrye Museum [http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/] in Hoxton is a real treat. It’s the museum of English domestic interiors. As well as some great displays it also has a charming garden and a great cafe. On the other side of the city I love the calm tranquillity of Dulwich Picture Gallery [http://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk/]. It’s a hidden gem in London, but it doesn’t deserve to be. The building and gardens are beautiful and the collection – although somewhat obscure – is a time capsule of late 18th-century art collecting. Less than a mile away, but very different in tone, is the fabulous Horniman Museum [http://www.horniman.ac.uk/] with its wide-ranging collection of musical instruments, African objects and natural history.

LLO: Give us a London fact you’ve learned while working that most people probably don’t know, but might put a smile on their face when they hear it.
SS: There’s a stuffed walrus [http://www.horniman.ac.uk/ten.php] in the Horniman Museum’s natural history collection. When the skin was sent to the UK from Canada in 1870 the taxidermist assigned to stuff it had never seen a live walrus. He stuffed it full of filling, like he’d stuff a horse or a dog, until it was completely full. But, of course, walruses are supposed to have rolls of blubber to keep them warm. You can still see the lines in his side where his flab should be, but unfortunately he’s far too big. It’d be a nightmare to undo the work, so he’s left there, looking rather uncomfortable. He’s supposed to be fat, but not that fat!

LLO: Tell us about the most fascinating Londoner you’ve interviewed in your life, either through museum work or your personal projects.
SS:I wrote the audio guide for an exhibition at Lambeth Palace Library recently and got to interview the Archbishop of Canterbury for the introduction. He’s a real pro when it comes to the media – he spoke directly with confidence and ease. And he did it word perfect, in one take. I guess fluent speaking goes with the job! From his study we could see the amazing gardens of Lambeth Palace. Apparently it’s the second largest private garden in London, next to Buckingham Palace.

LLO: Where’s your favourite place to go to unwind over dinner or drinks?
SS:
I love water, so I’m often to be found near the river. But in the summer it can get quite manic, so I’ll head back towards my home in south London. Camberwell and Peckham are having are real renaissance right now. There are loads of great bars and restaurants in which to eat, drink and just hang out. My back garden also has a little suntrap, so I can sometimes be found there on a summer evening with a glass of wine, watching the planes heading into Heathrow.

LLO: Favourite London discovery?
SS: I’d always assumed that if you wanted good curry in London you should head to Brick Lane. But I’d never thought of Drummond Street (near Euston Station) until a friend took me there. It’s great row of restaurants if you like south Indian food.

There’s also a great pop-up bar on top floor of a multi-storey car park in Peckham called Frank’s Cafe and Campari Bar [http://www.frankscafe.org.uk/]. It’s a unique blend of sculpture, food and drinks in the open air, with a privileged view of the London skyline.

LLO: What’s the best part about living in your postcode?
SS: Camberwell gets a bad reputation sometimes, but I think it’s a fabulous place to live. It’s relaxed and artsy and has loads of places to get coffee, food, free wi-fi and evening drinks. It’s such a creative area, there’s something for everyone and for every mood. I maintain that the best tapas in London is at Angels and Gypsies [http://www.churchstreethotel.com/restaurant-menu.asp?menu=6332] at the Church Street Hotel. Camberwell Arts Week [http://www.camberwellarts.org.uk/] each June is a real treat – this year we sat on the roof of the church hall and watched movies projected onto the wall at night!

Thanks Steve!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

Listen to a Londoner: Jackie Kingsley and Michael Shamash

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview post with people who live (or have lived for a while) in London. If you fit the bill and want to be interviewed, give me a shout at littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk. Always looking for new volunteers.

Michael and Jackie from London RIP

In this ever-changing city that is slowly being devoured by corporate coffee chains and high street shops, Michael and Jackie have frozen a few favourite London locations that have been lost to the times on their website, London RIP. They welcome and encourage others to reminisce and contribute their own loved and lost locations from London life.

LLO: Tell us a bit about your website London RIP.
M&J:
London-RIP celebrates the London places we’ve lost and are losing. It’s a very personal record of an ever-changing landscape and we invite people to contribute their memories of their favourite places. We’re not particularly interested in places that are “important” – more the pubs, clubs, cinemas, record shops and bookshops that make up the city as people really experience it. We’ve been friends since the 70s, so London-RIP tends to focus on that era a bit, but we’re just as interested in what’s happening now, especially as London is going through such a period of change.

LLO: Which London loss has been the most disappointing for you?
M&J:
Our ex-local pub, The Royal Oak, in Temple Fortune. There wasn’t anything particularly special or wow about it, and that’s the point. It was just an average local boozer which happened to be at the heart of the community. Its loss is emblematic of all the local pub closures going on in London. 

LLO: What was the most unique place you can remember that has now disappeared?
M&J:
Production Village in Cricklewood. It was a faux village that was actually a film set, and had a pub that served a vile beverage called Hog’s Grunt. The whole place was mad as a box of frogs and utterly unrepeatable.

LLO: The two of you met in the late 70s. What were the best pubs and clubs in London back then that aren’t around any more?
M&J:
Neither of us ever saw the Sex Pistols at the Roxy or anything like that, so we can’t pretend nostalgia for anything particularly lionised, but we do miss a lot of the mid-sized music venues that seem to be disappearing – the Music Machine, later the Camden Palace is an exception because it’s still a venue, but places like The Moonlight and The Nashville have sadly gone.

LLO: You ask your readers and share Emma Thompson’s anwers – what aspects of London’s past do you miss most? What are your own top 5 answers to this question?
M&J:
1.) Cheap and cheerful cafes
2.) Non-ironic, sensible specialist shops (eg haberdashers as opposed to chichi cheesemakers)
3.) Being able to park in Regent Street (not environmentally sound, but very handy)
4.) Green line coaches
5.) Someone we met recently remarked that 15 years ago you could safely shout at policemen if you felt like it. The context of this was watching some bloke handcuffed on the ground surrounded by angry coppers after what looked like a pub scuffle. Not sure if you really could shout at policemen (at least without getting a good hiding), but we like the idea of everything being a bit less serious and officious than it is now.

LLO: What has been the most drastic or surprising way London has changed since your childhood?
M&J:
The move towards the city centre, particularly the east. In the 70s and 80s, some people predicted that London would become like an American city with the centre dead apart from commuters and life revolving around the suburbs. That so hasn’t happened, with places like Hoxton becoming the new Camden (and rapidly evolving into the new Hampstead).

LLO: Share a photo of a well-missed London location?
M&J:
The picture is of Oriental City. It certainly wasn’t very promising from the outside, but this oriental shopping mall and all-round food paradise was a wonderland at the Colindale end of the Edgware Road. The real Chinatown, RIP.

Thanks Jackie and Michael!

Website: www.london-rip.com

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

 

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