In a specialized society, it may not be common for a single person to undertake a project from the beginning to its end. However, it is still a common phenomenon in the studios of those who are called a craftsman, a metalsmith or a designer-maker.
One of the reasons for me to become a metalsmith was because I was attracted to the way I could feel the physical change in the copper metal sheet when hammering it. I was sometimes flattered of being part of the history when following the rules of the metalwork techniques and the footsteps of senior craftsmen, who have written the techniques through their own practices. I even think of these repetitive labour as a kind of a ritual, by experiencing a feeling of peace in mind, rather than exhaustion. Alike me, I believe that there are many craftsmen who are attracted to such sensorial and sentimental process of making.
However, logical thinking and practical considerations are strongly required in order to continue working as a craftsman. For some time, I kept on asking myself about the reasons why I have spent a long period of time making these labour intensive works at a present age. I am concerned that the addiction to such repetitive labour or the controlling of the whole making process is a way of escaping from reality or a mere self-satisfaction.
The theme of this exhibition “The way to make objects” is about such personal concerns, as written above. I have prepared this exhibition by keeping in mind about talking frankly on the matters of working process I face as a metalsmith. For example, I developed a particular TIG welding skill which connect the parts without the process of silver soldering in order to make the making process more efficient. Instead of grinding and polishing the connected parts, I tried to make use of the welded joints as design elements. The different textures of the work, which are distinctive from that of factory products, are results that have arisen from the concerns about the handmade process and on the necessity of one-man working system.
Similar to how people get old through the passing of time, objects also get old. The metal material records the working process by changing its property when applying heat, changing form when applying force, and changing color when being exposed in air. The work records the maker’s time while in the studio, but it records the user’s time after leaving the studio. I hope for my objects to be in harmony with the user’s daily life and for the user to accept the changes in color and gloss as the passing of time.
This exhibition will show several vases and containers that are mainly used for arranging flowers. The act of decorating the house with flowers can add special scene to the space of our daily lives and may give us a small indulgence. I believe that craft objects match well with flowers as to makeup those special moments.
For some, my work may feel odd to keep in their daily lives due to its unfamiliar materials and shapes, and for others, it may feel like a familiar object. Whoever it may be, I hope to have an opportunity to talk with both sides of the people.
November 2015, Seung Hyun Lee Solo Exhibition 'The Way to Make Objects'