Bland But Bold: The Colour of Uncoloured Textiles
Sixteen Korean quilters premiere an exhibition of art quilts inspired by ‘so-sak’, a Korean word that describes the raw colour of uncoloured textiles. The resulting quilts mix and match contemporary fabrics with traditional textiles, using the latest stitch techniques to draw individual meanings from the theme.
In 1897, after her fourth visit to Korea, the English traveller and writer Isabella Bishop noted in her book Korea and Her Neighbours that Korean people often wore white. Her observation was one of many historic descriptions about the ‘White-Clad Folk’, a term used to describe the Korean spirit. Wearing white was more than preference however. Although historically commoners wore white, the practice also related to worship and heaven. White is also the colour of rice, which has always been, and still is, fundamental to Asian life. When holding a memorial service to their ancestors, Koreans still present a full bowl of pure white rice and clear alcohol, called Cheongju, during the ceremony.
So-sak is not actually the modern white that we are familiar with today. Before raw textiles are dyed or bleached, it’s possible to observe several neutral colours, and so-sak describes this. This has inspired these contemporary quilters to produce new quilts. Their ambition is to show the current range of Korean quilts, and this museum-quality exhibition focuses on the universal role of colour in making quilts, exploring how it creates meaning and provides context.