Joungmee Do is a Korean-born jeweller and maker currently based in Melbourne with her husband and fellow maker Daehoon Kang. Having studied traditional methods of metal inlay (iybsa) for about 5 years in her home country, the opportunity arose for both her and Daehoon to do postgraduate studies in Australia, and they arrived here in 1997.
While her formative years as a maker were spent in Korea, being in Australia has given her a fresh perspective on her work.
“If I was in Korea I don’t think I could produce this kind of work, probably because the influences in each place are so different. If you’ve always lived in one place you’re not as likely to really see your surroundings…to take a close look. But if you go away to a completely different environment then you think about the original environment, and also your new environment, really carefully. Moving between Korea and Australia has made me think about and compare both places. They’re very different…”
Her Korean-ness is what grounds her work, but being here gives her room to play with Western ideas.
“The way I use the [iybsa] technique is not exactly how it’s done historically. I use something traditional but in a contemporary way. It is where I came from…but right now I am here. And that’s very important. For me it’s about coming up with something that includes what I had then and also what I have at the moment. They’re both equally important in my work.”
Of course it is the beautiful layering of intricate shapes that first grabs my attention. Each piece is an eminently sensitive balance of colour and form. But what I really love is that seductive texture, the finely chiselled surface, the embossed pattern, and the delicate touches of inlay that you only find on closer inspection.
You can see more of Joungmee Do’s work at e.g.etal, 167 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. Their website is here.
Excerpts from Richard Stephen’s interview with Joungmee Do and Daehoon Kang used with kind permission.
And with thanks to e.g.etal and photographer Terence Bogue for their permission to use these images.