Art & Exhibition, Upcoming events

Ottchil: Light from Nature

Presented in partnership with Coreana Cosmetics Museum and Australian Design Centre, Korean Cultural Centre Australia unveils two special exhibitions in Sydney.

In Korean Cultural Centre Australia, Ottchil: Light from Nature features around 70 ottchil crafts, including authentic reproductions of Joseon ottchil, items adorned with red lacquer (juchil), mother-of-pearl artifacts from collection of Coreana Cosmetics Museum, and contemporary ottchil works. This exhibition celebrates the diversity and excellence of ottchil arts, highlighting the contributions of master artisans dedicated to preserving traditional techniques, as well as contemporary artists who skillfully reinterpret these methods in modern genres such as painting, glassware, and metal craft.

In Australian Design Centre, Light from Nature: Kim Dong Wan and Lucy Simpson showcases a cross-cultural collaboration, featuring Kim’s glass works incorporating Ottchil, and Simpson’s representations of dhanggal (mussels) and giba (grinding stones).

Nature has bestowed upon us a plethora of gifts that enrich our lives, and among them, Ottchil stands out as one of its finest offerings. This remarkable substance seamlessly blends beauty and functionality, boasting captivating colours, smooth luster, and exceptional preservation properties. For over 2,000 years, Korea has been at the forefront of Ottchil technology, tailoring its applications to the unique characteristics of various materials including metal, ceramics, leather, paper, and wood.

Ottchil plays a pivotal role in enhancing the durability and preservation of sensitive materials such as wood and paper, which are susceptible to the effects of temperature, humidity, and pests. Moreover, when applied to the surfaces of metal or leather, Ottchil acts as a formidable shield against corrosion and decay. Woven deeply into the fabric of our lives, Ottchil’s excellence was discovered by our ancestors, who recognised its myriad benefits. They ingeniously incorporated Ottchil into everyday items, ranging from tableware and utensils to jewelry and weapons. The Ott tree (lacquer tree), the source of Ottchil, is predominantly found in Asia—particularly in Korea, China, and Japan. Korea, blessed with both a conducive natural environment and advanced technology, excels in harvesting high-quality lacquer.

Building upon this legacy, the art of Ottchil has been carefully handed down across generations by dedicated craftsmen, ensuring that the intricate craftsmanship of Ottchil objects is preserved and cherished by their descendants. The process involves meticulous painting and drying, repeated over 20 times. This results in Ottchil pieces that boast a distinctive smooth surface texture and a captivating luster. The charm of Ottchil lies in this prolonged waiting period, a testament to the patience and reverence our ancestors had for this craft. They held Ottchil close, cherishing and appreciating it, and it seamlessly integrated into the daily lives of Koreans, fostering a harmonious existence between people and nature.

The inherent beauty of Ottchil is manifested in its natural luster and rich colours, which enhance the texture of the material. The intricate details, reflecting the shimmering light of mother-of-pearl, distinguish Korean lacquerware as one of the world’s most exceptional crafts. These hallmarks have enriched the lives of Koreans throughout the ages.

Ottchil: Light from Nature
22 March – 21 June 2024
Korean Cultural Centre Australia
Artists: Sohn Dae Hyun, Kim Hyun Ju, Park Sung Youl, Chun In Soo, Jeong Zik Seong, Kim Dong Wan

Light from Nature: Kim Dong Wan and Lucy Simpson
22 March – 1 June 2024
Australian Design Centre
Artists: Kim Dong Wan, Lucy Simpson

Public Program
Exhibition Opening with Ottchil Demonstration
Friday, 22 March, 6-8pm
Korean Cultural Centre Australia
Free event, Booking essential (Only successful participants will be contacted)

Light from Nature: Kim Dong Wan and Lucy Simpson Floor Talk
Saturday, 23 March, 2-3pm
Australian Design Centre
Free event, Bookings essential

Coreana Cosmetics Museum
The Coreana Cosmetics Museum houses the largest collection of traditional cosmetic items in South Korea. It was established in Gangnam, Seoul in 2003 to preserve and promote the long and colourful tradition of Korean cosmetics. Dr. Sangok Yu, the founder of the Coreana Cosmetics Company, has donated 5,300 pieces to the collection over the span of 40 years. Visitors to the museum can explore the history and culture of Korean makeup, as well as appreciate the wisdom and beauty of Korea through the traditional makeup materials and manufacturing tools on display.

Australian Design Centre
Australian Design Centre (ADC) is a major contemporary craft and design organisation igniting creative ideas and building cultural vibrancy. Through exhibition, festival, touring, retail, publishing and learning platforms, its pivotal role lies in developing and supporting Australia’s makers and designers and building audiences for their work across the country and internationally.

This exhibition was supported by the “Traveling Korean Arts” project of the KOFICE(Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange).