The Korea Herald


Diversity of crafts laid bare in Cheongju

The 8th Cheongju International Craft Biennale brings together contemporary craftworks from around the world

By Lee Woo-young

Published : Aug. 20, 2013 - 19:51

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An international showcase of modern craft trends will be held in the birthplace of the metal crafts, Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, next month.

The 8th Cheongju International Craft Biennale, the world’s biggest craft festival, aims to focus on the artistic aspect of craftworks as well as their practical uses and purposes, bringing together 6,000 works by 3,000 artists from 60 countries around the world.

Under the theme of “Something OLD Something NEW,” the craft biennale will exhibit all genres of craft works, including metal works, ceramics, wood lacquer, textiles and glass while running academic workshops and educational programs for children from Sept. 11 to Oct. 20.

“Started in 1999, the Cheongju International Craft Biennale is the world’s one-and-only craft event that covers all genres of crafts. It will be an exhibit that offers an opportunity to look at works of artists in depth,” said Jung Gyu-ho, director of the supervision and planning division of the biennale, at the press conference on Tuesday.

The biennale will consist of two main exhibitions, a special exhibition that invites German contemporary works of art and craft and an exhibition that displays winning artworks from the 8th Cheongju International Craft Competition. More interesting exhibitions follow with the showcase of art and craft works by Korean celebrities and craft-making sessions.

“So far, we have dealt with the value of craft and the way it functions in today’s context, but this year’s biennale aims to explore further by looking at craft and their artistic and practical aspect closely,” said Park Nam-hee, director of the biennale, at the press conference.

The old tobacco factory ― once the country’s largest cigarette manufacturers ― will be transformed once again as the main venue of the craft biennale.

The unique venue will get a new look this year with a huge patchwork cloth measuring 100 meters x 32 meters wrapping the factory site. The patchwork is made with more than 10 tons of vinyl banners collected on the streets of the city by citizens of Cheongju.

Artworks incorporating features of art and crafts will be on display at the exhibition one, featuring some 400 works by 20 internationally well-known artists, including five Korean artists.

Some of the highlights include Portugal artist Joana Vasconcelos’ decorative sculpture that features patterned textiles. The artist, who represented Portugal at the 2013 Venice Biennale and was the first female artist to hold an exhibition at Versailles, is the most celebrated artist of the biennale. 
“Valkyrie #3” by Joana Vasconcelos. (Cheongju International Craft Biennale) “Valkyrie #3” by Joana Vasconcelos. (Cheongju International Craft Biennale)

While a majority of artists use conventional craft materials such as ceramic, glass. lacquer and wood in their artworks, artists like Kate MccGwire and Shin Sang-ho use bird feathers and used objects by the U.S. Army in their distinctive sculptural installations.

Exhibition two will feature works that balance the practical aspect and traditional aesthetics of craftworks to focus on basic usages of craftworks and their artistic values.

The winning works from the 9th International Craft Competition Exhibition will be on show in a separate exhibition, where visitors will be able to observe creative craftworks that break the boundaries of existing genres and forms. 
“#9” by Kim Hee-chan. (Cheongju International Craft Biennale) “#9” by Kim Hee-chan. (Cheongju International Craft Biennale)

The winning pieces include the wooden sculpture “#9” by Kim Hee-chan, an accessory piece by Park Jeong-hye using dyed silk, silver and paper, and a site-specific installation by Yoo Min-ah that uses ceramics scattered on the floor.

This year, German artists have been invited to showcase their functional and diverse craft design, expressed through jewelry, fashion design, home interior and sculptural craft objects. Finland was the featured guest country in 2011.

Admission is 10,000 won for adults, 4,000 won for teenagers and 3,000 won for children. Tickets can be purchased online at The exhibitions open throughout the biennale period without holidays.

For more information, visit

By Lee Woo-young (