Sara Cook

Sara Cook

Bojagi - From ancient traditions to contemporary interpretations

Friday, May 7, 2021

Bojagi have played an important role in traditional Korean culture and have been used in the everyday to wrap, carry and store objects. Until the 1950’s they were used to wrap or cover everything from bedding and clothes to food dishes and for religious rituals. I will introduce you to the historical significance and symbolism of this ancient craft and how contemporary textile artists are interpreting these ideas in their work. 

I include plenty of examples in the power point and I will show actual examples of bojagi to the group after the talk using my overhead camera.

About the Speaker:

I was born in London and at an early age discovered that I had an enthusiasm for all things sewing related. Toys and teddy’s alike had clothes made and scarves knitted for them. With a professional seamstress for a mother and an uncle a Saville Row Taylor, I was never far from fabric and sewing advice.

I longed to get onto the sewing machine and when my mother found me trying to get the bobbin thread through that little hole in the throat plate she relented and showed me how to use it. It was a blue Singer, extremely heavy and set in a teak sewing cupboard.

I can still remember the smell of the draws filled with paper patterns and mysterious sewing equipment like stilettos and bodkins, rolls of bias binding, a leather patch for an elbow.

I realised I wanted to pursue using my creative skills and I began by training as a theatrical costume maker in Liverpool. Working at Glyndebourne Opera House brought me to Sussex and ultimately to Brighton where I have lived for the past 25 years.

While working as a pattern cutter at Glyndebourne I realized I loved to share my knowledge with others and encouraging them to try new skills. This led me to taking a teaching qualification and I began a career in Adult education. In 2012 I established Brighton Fashion and Textile School where I teach the City & Guilds qualifications in patchwork and quilting.

It was while I was studying for my C&G qualification back in 2009 that I discovered the work of Chunghie Lee a Korean textile artist and teacher. It was her work No Name Woman at the Festival of Quilts that introduced me to Bojagi (Korean wrapping cloths) and since then I have been researching this textile tradition.  When I attended the Korean Bojagi Forum in Suwon in Korea in 2016 I was able to carry out more indepth research about the historical and cultural traditions of this wonderful textile art.

In 2017 I was given the prestigious teachers bursary award from the Quilters Guild of the British Isles to travel to California to study with bojagi expert Youngmin Lee.  She introduced me to the San Francisco Asian Art Museum where I was able to study first hand a range of different types of historical of Korean wrapping cloths.

Returning to Korea in 2018 as an invited bojagi artist representing the UK at the international Korean Bojagi Forum was a chance to exhibit my work directly to a Korean audience.

The culmination of my research has been my new book, Bojagi: Design and techniques in Korean textile art which will be published by Batsford books in August 2019. This is an excting opportunity to share my knoweldge about how and why tradtional bojagi were made as well as how contemporay textile artists are interpreting these ideas in their own innovative work.

My own work is often inspired by walking in the countryside where I find that the stresses of a working week can drop away and ideas can begin to grow. Evening walks in mid-summer can be an inspiring time for me to observe the effects of light fading slowly into darkness.

My latest work The Grey line expresses that change of light, the boundary between night and day. Researching Korean textiles has inspired me to experiment with traditional narrow seams creating irregular grids combined with transparency to evoke the feeling of light moving across the landscape.

At the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham in 2019 I presented a curated gallery of textiles artists who work in bojagi, Transparency and Tradtion. For those of you who don't know it attracts around 30,000 visitors many of them international.

I look forward to exhibiting in Seoul in South Korea in May 2021 as part of the Doublehappiness project organised by Korean textile designer, oQamoQa, Seong Ok and Youngmin Lee

Workshops offered by speaker:

No workshops available