15 June 2015

Our latest resident to arrive at the Glenfiddich Distillery is Han Seok Hyun, our forth Korean resident and once again selected with kind assistance Suzie Lee of the Inverness St. Gallery in Camden.

Ecology is central to Seok Hyun’s art and for the past few years he has been ‘growing’ trees using timber donated by members of the public or salvaged from skips and dumping grounds. Old, unwanted pieces of furniture, pallets, packaging crates, broken and smashed, are all recycled by the artist into living, growing sculptural pieces which acknowledge the majestic contortions of ancient trees, twisted and gnarled with the passage of time.

These works came out of two observations by the artist: that there was a great lack of old trees in his home city of Seoul due to war and development. Also while most other materials such as glass, plastic and metals were widely recycled in the city. There seemed to be no such provisions for discarded timber.

Seok Hyun’s interest in the green world is expressed in his previous works which as well as the large scale public tree sculptures also include gallery based works. These explore society’s obsession with freshness - even when artificially created and maintained – and the use of ‘greenwashing’ in the world of advertising.

Unusually enough given his concerns, the Glenfiddich Residency is the first time Seok Hyun has been given the opportunity to work in an environment still enriched by many mature trees. And one archetypically Scottish aesthetic has already caught his eye - the lone mountain ash, or rowan clinging stubbornly to slopes of a windswept glen, contorted and defiant against the ravages of weather and time.

The living element of Seok Hyun’s works have been previously incorporated through the use of special hessian pockets containing soil and plants, but for his Scottish work he plans on planting a sapling with in the work. The intention is that in many years’ time as his sculpture eventually breaks down and rots into compost, the young tree will grow to take its place. Completing the reverse rebirth of tree to timber back to tree.

Although one of his first tasks was to get his kimchi fermenation underway, Seok Hyun has quickly settled in to Dufftown life and along with Su has already has been ‘awa to the fishin’ with Glenfiddich stalwart Dennis McBain.

He has also started to amass an impressive and constantly expanding collection of ‘raw’ materials in his back garden.

More of Seok Hyuns work can be found by following these links