Hajeong Lee grew up in a suburb of Seoul the South Korean capital. She has received many awards for her work including the National Award for Craft Art in 2005, which was awarded for a large ceramic sculpture – the size of a small car. Her pieces are held in collections across the UK, and within the USA.
Hajeong began studying at Sungshin Women’s University in Seoul to study craft in the broadest sense but quickly became attached to the ceramics department. Graduating with a BA in 2001 she went on to complete an MA in 2003 before becoming a teaching assistant at the same university and, later, a lecturer.
In 2011 she moved to the UK to live with her husband – having settled near Rhayader, Mid Wales, Hajeong now makes in her new studio full time while her young son is at school.
Currently focusing her making predominantly on tableware, Hajeong fuses traditional Korean techniques, using inlaid white slip and a dark clay, with patterns influenced by William Morris. To form one particular piece, she uses a flat master mould in which she has carved the surface of a plaster slab 3ft x 2ft before making plate moulds by selecting certain areas of the carved surface to carry the imprint of the carving. Inlaying white slip to fill the hollows and then, when dry, scraping back the white slip to reveal the crisp and clear pattern underneath. A time-consuming process but the results that are displayed in each piece reflect the culture, history and craftsmanship behind it.
“My pots are fired in any of our three kilns but I prefer to have them in the wood kiln whenever possible. I love the idea of my pots being used everyday unlike a sculpture which is entirely decorative or made to convey a message. I feel that by using my pots they become a familiar and comforting feature of a person’s life.” – Hajeong Lee