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Making Research

6105: Negotiated Practice


– Identify and critically engage with relevant research material.

– Analysis and synthesis of research into the successful development of individual project outcomes.

– Critical selection and application of appropriate methods/technical and production skills.

– Utilisation of suitable sources/materials.

– Contribution to knowledge and debates in the subject area, including the limitations of the Major Project and potential future development.

– Execution of the Major Project; organisation, clarity of presentation, consistency with conventions of the discipline.


Key Dates Semester 1  (25/9/17 – 26/1/18)

Wed/Thurs 18/19 Oct: Formative Assessment: Footnotes Presentations.

Wed/Thurs 17/18 Jan: Project proposal and Risk Assessment.

Thurs 25 Jan: Formative Assessment deadline and Work in Progress Public Show.

Friday 26 Jan: Formative Assessment crit.

Tuesday 30 Jan: Work in Progress Public Show

Key Dates Semester 2  (5/2/18-1/6/18)

Dates TBC: Formative assessments, Project proposal

Wed 18 April: Risk Assessment deadline

Thursday 10 May: Last day of Workshops

Thursday 31: May 12 noon final hand-in deadline

Monday 11: June Show Opens and week of events



– An edited blog that evidences critically relevant research material. This should evidence a deeper understanding of your enquiry from the first formative assessment and show evidence of self-development drawn from the on-going feedback from staff and peers.

– Analysis and synthesis of your research into a range of physical prototypes. The physical prototypes or piece (to date) should reflect the level of fabrication you wish to achieve and resolved most of your production challenges at this point. They should be able to stand alone as exhibition pieces.

– A completed project proposal that reflects your project and practice. This written piece should show a deep understanding of your research and production processes.


Initial Interests & ‘Comfort Women’

At the end of last year I was focussing on ceramics, using the Live Projects module as a way of developing and refining my ceramic practice, choosing to sink into themes surrounding mental health. However, after a summer studying in South Korea, a country whose history I’ve always been interested in, I found out about forgotten/hidden histories surrounding women, and felt deeply compelled to explore further.

During my time in South Korea I taught English to students at a partner university and studied a course in South Korean society, culture and history with Professor Susanna Lim. The course was incredibly rich and I found it really challenging, but equally rewarding. During the course, I learned about the history of Japan’s use of sex slaves for the Japanese Military, euphemistically called ‘Comfort Women’. This is primarily where my research began; being in South Korea meant I had access to a different perspective on the issue and the opportunity to learn more from that perspective.

What are ‘comfort women’?

A euphemism for the women who were sexual slaves for the Japanese Imperial Army in Japanese occupied areas during World War II. The Japanese forcibly enslaved hundreds of thousands of women to act as sexual slaves in “comfort stations” initially set up as a means of reducing the number of rape reports in occupied territories. The women were often tricked into believing they were going to work in factories or as nurses for the Japanese army, when in fact they were being sent to “comfort stations”. About 2/3 of the women who were enslaved were killed after Japan was defeated, and gradually many of the remaining women died without every talking of their enslavement.

In 1991 the first woman spoke out about her experience – Kim Hak-sun came forward and gave her testimony, sparking many more testimonies from other survivors, which in turn started a movement to seek justice for their trauma. Japan still has yet to officially and sufficiently apologise for their part in their suffering.

Extract from The House of Sharing’s website –

I was drawn to this particular subject after a class dedicated entirely to learning about the cultural implications of this part of Korea and Japan’s history on today’s generation. We discussed how the treatment of women within each culture’s colonial past lead to this point in history, and how the impact of this has sent tremors throughout generations, and how those tremors have turned into waves fighting back against the oppression of women through protest & demonstration.

I couldn’t let go after the class finished. I found myself unable to think of anything else but the pain and trauma suffered by women and children forced into sexual slavery. After class ended it was common for students to walk down to the restaurants and wind down, but I went back up to my dorm and cried uncontrollably.  I’ve been to numerous memorials for periods in history such as the holocaust and genocides, and always felt their impact and been horrified by the histories they spoke of. Somehow the history of ‘comfort women’ struck me deeply, and the more I thought about it the more helpless I felt.

I became fixated on knowing as much as I could about it, I reread all of the material from the class and spoke with my fellow students about it. I felt as if I were investigating something unsolved, with the answers right in front of me, yet an overwhelming silence from those responsible.

I discovered the issue of wartime sex slaves had particular importance to the people of Korea as it’s estimated 80% of the victims were trafficked from the Korean peninsula. I also came across information about The House of Sharing, a nursing home for several remaining survivors, based in rural Seoul. I went to The House of Sharing alone, as I didn’t feel like it was a trip I wanted to share like a tourist might. The journey was complicated as it was such a rural location, I took several trains as well as a bus and a very long taxi I was certain had no clue where I needed to go until suddenly, I was there.


The Place of Requiem – a memorial for Kim Hak-soon, the first Korean woman to testify in 1991. The House of Sharing, Seoul, South Korea, (2017).


The House of Sharing was rich with information, with an extensive collection of exhibitions in the museum attached dedicated to the history of ‘comfort women’. I was also able to talk with volunteers in the main research office about why I was interested in the issue of ‘comfort women’ and as a result of my conversation I was able to view four documentaries in a conference room on my own. I felt I was able to sink deeply into all the information and spent a long time meticulously reading every single piece of text I came across.

I reflected on my time at The House of Sharing & Museum of Sexual Slavery by The Japanese Military in the context of my upcoming work for 6105 Negotiated Practice with fairly narrow views of what my work could address:


Note taken after class (July 23rd, 2017)

Look at the possibilities of using ‘comfort women’ as a research start point – their use of art therapy and their Korean cultural ideals – han jeoung and etc (look up Dan Tudor article from Dr Lims class week 3) the act of sharing their story as a cathartic action of relieving their grief. Their grief can only be resolved with their demands of Japan’s government met. Their work has served as an educational tool – humanising victims of an atrocious act, allowing for the understanding of the feeling and emotion of the survivors of the abhorrent history to help prevent reoccurrence. Atrocities lost to history can never be learned from. Making art as a means of releasing pain and educating to prevent this horror reoccurring is incredibly important and can only continue – in a digital age where everyone can find anything.


After several weeks I was less interested in the ‘redemptive’ powers of work made as a result of trauma, and more interested in the reasons why for so long these women’s voices were left unheard. The period of silence after the end of WWII stretched from 1945-1992, with survivors suffering from immense feelings of shame and loneliness as they lived with their trauma. I began to realise I was asking myself the same questions over and over:

Why were their voices being ignored?

Why were they shamed into becoming invisible?

What can be done to hear them now that so much time has passed?

Footnotes presentation extracts:


Christian Boltanski

Boltanski’s work incorporates visual representation into events such as the Holocaust, using the power of photography to recall past histories. Describing his interest in personal histories, Boltanski has said, “What drives me as an artist is that I think everyone is unique, yet everyone disappears so quickly. […] We hate to see the dead, yet we love them, we appreciate them.”

At once personal and universal in reference, Boltanski’s work serves as a monument to the dead, hinting at the Holocaust without naming it. Within this haunting environment, Boltanski intermingles emotion and history, sentimentality and profundity.


Chang-jin Lee


The gathering of women to serve the Imperial Japanese Army was organized on an industrial scale not seen before in modern history. This project promotes awareness of these women, some of whom are still alive today, and brings to light a history which has been largely forgotten and denied.

The title, COMFORT WOMEN WANTED, is a reference to the actual text of advertisements which appeared in Asian newspapers during the war. When advertising failed, young women from Korea, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Netherlands were kidnapped or deceived and forced into sexual slavery. Most were teenagers, some as young as 11 years old, and were raped by as many as fifty soldiers a day at military rape camps, known as “comfort stations.” By some estimates only 30% survived the ordeal. The “Comfort Women System” is considered the largest case of human trafficking in the 20th century.

Despite growing awareness of the issue of trafficking of women and of sexual slavery as a crime against humanity, this particular history has gone largely unacknowledged. COMFORT WOMEN WANTED attempts to bring to light this instance of organized violence against women, and to create a constructive dialogue for the future by acknowledging their place in history.


Public Art in Times Square, New York City, 2013
Ad-like Phone Booth Kiosk Poster in English, with QR Code


The Incheon Women Artists’ Biennale, Korea, 2009
Ad-like billboard

The privileging of written documents works to exclude from history…the voices of the kind of people comfort women represent – the female, the impoverished, the colonized, the illiterate, and the racially and ethnically oppressed. These people have left few written records of their experiences and therefore are denied a place in history and discussions of it by positivist gatekeepers. These “women without history” appear, then, only as they are represented in documents written by those in positions of power and only these documents satisfy the gatekeepers criteria for historical authenticity.

It had only been through their testimonies that survivors have been able to challenge this portrayal.



Breaking Silence by Paula Allen

Fifty years after maintaining a painful silence, the women of Asia, who had been forced into sexual slavery during WWII by the Japanese Imperial Army, began to speak publicly. Together these women, euphemistically called ‘Comfort Women’, have awakened the world to the horror of the Japanese Military’s institutionalisation of rape, trafficking, and torture inflicted upon women and girls.

They have asked for full reparations and an apology from the Japanese Government and to date, are still waiting. Their voices have mobalised and inspired a global movement demanding that the crimes of sexual violence be readdressed.

The selected photographs were made for Amnesty International in 2005, on a trip to South Korea and the Philippines, with researcher Suki Nagra.


Looking at these images I am drawn to the contemplative honesty of their candid nature, as well as the importance of the inclusion of the captions – as without the captions they become voiceless. I want my own work to speak of the voices of the women who suffered as ‘comfort women’. To do this I know I need to continue to read their testimonies.


Soapbox Slides – Jane Watts on Protest, Persuasion & Education

Some slides from a previous presentation by Jane Watts on methods of protest, of persuasion, and of education which I’ve since looked back on for inspiration.

Moving forwards I want to make a body of work that serves to educate on the issue of wartime sexual slavery by the Japanese and protests, as part of the Wednesday Demonstrations.



Wednesday Demonstrations


Since 1992 protestors young and old have gathered outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul every single Wednesday at noon to draw international attention to Japan’s World War II sex slavery in occupied Asia, and is currently the world’s longest running protest.

Amongst the protestors are former ‘comfort women’, who have continued to fight for their demands of the Japanese government:

  1. Admit the forcible drafting of the Japanese military ‘comfort women’
  2. Apologise officially
  3. Reveal the truth about the crime
  4. Erect memorials for the victims
  5. Pay restitution to the victims or their families
  6. Teach the truth about this so it does not happen again
  7. Punish the war criminals

Images of protestors used in the Museum of Sexual Slavery by Japanese Military. (Visited July 20th, 2017)



Ceramic Forms

I know I want to incorporate ceramics into my final piece as my work last year was really enjoyable to make and I’d like to continue developing a ceramic practice. In terms of how I’d use ceramics to convey my ideas I want to make something that speaks of volume and vastness – of the scale of the events during WWII that I’m focussing on.

Traditional Korean Ceramics:

Kang-hyo Lee: Onggi Master


  • Ceramic culture is very closely connected to dietry life and food culture. A lot of foods in Korea are fermented and stored. Because of this food culture Korea has become so skilled at making large jars & containers.
  • “When I make this kind of large jar or small cup, I am contained.” – Lee’s work comes through his body from his mind, into the materials used.
  • I don’t have to remake old/traditional ceramics to make good work, but understanding the cultural importance of traditional ceramics will help me make interesting work.

Large forms:


Jar with peony decoration. Korean, Joseon dynasty (1392-1910); first half of the 15th century. Buncheong with inlaid design. Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul.


Baekja White Ceramic Vase


  • Large forms are typical in Korea as they serve as highly functional objects for day to day life, both for families and businesses for the purpose of fermenting food and various sauces.
  • These forms are steeped in tradition, with sudden food shortages after the end of Japan’s colonisation and the Korean War in the early 1950′s these ceramic forms were crucial in preserving and fermenting staple foods.



Pottery Plate with Moon and Reed Sgraffito Design


Korean dinner plate with iron black and red copper paint fish design

Buncheong artisans reinterpreted traditional iconography, often allowing only the essence of the image to emerge. Asian floral designs, peonies, chrysanthemums and lotus were defined in linear motifs. Animals, too, such as the tortoise on an elephant vessel, were also interpreted as a swash of lines. Occasionally, mythical animals change form under the artist’s guidance. For instance, a dragon and fish are joined as a “dragon fish,” the enigmatic emblem of an anonymous artist.


  • Traditional motifs aren’t always explicit, but can be more subtle and expressive
  • I don’t think any use of imagery will be relevant to my work as I’m looking to a period of history shrouded in silence and a distinct lack of historical visibility.

Further thoughts:

Currently I’m thinking of tables completely covered with small ceramic forms I’ve made over and over and over again.


When I think back to my time in Korea and the beginnings of my research into the issue of ‘comfort women’ I remember long discussions with women on the subject, as well as conversations surrounding current views of women in the world. These discussions were always had with traditional Korean drinks, either soju or makgeolli (rice liquors/wines)


Serving of makgeolli, using metal golden cups. South Korea, (2017).

Traditionally ceramic forms would have been used to serve makgeolli, and I’ve found a YouTube clip of a potter explaining how she makes these cups:

Soju was the main drink we all had when we sat down for our long discussions and I brought home my own set of soju cups when I returned. All over Seoul were stands selling handmade cups with detailed paintings of traditional Korean motifs, although these simple ones were the most popular:


Next steps:

  • Get into the ceramics room and begin making some of these forms (Email Claire).
  • Decide which form would work best to be remade over and over again to best represent the scale of the issue of ‘comfort women’.


Even rough objects are important and can convey an idea

– use this idea in my work

– don’t get bogged down with perfectionism yet




V&A Contemporary Korean Ceramics – Friday, 19 May 2017 – Sunday, 11 February 2018.

Bringing together the work of fifteen emerging and established artists from Korea, this display offers a glimpse into contemporary Korean studio ceramic practice. Some are inspired by historical Korean ceramics such as inlaid celadons from the Goryeo dynasty (918-1392) or white porcelains of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910). Others experiment with new technologies and alternative materials, or use ceramics as a medium to engage with contemporary issues ranging from mass-consumption and pop culture to the destruction of Korea’s architectural heritage.

Starting on Monday 18 September, one of the pieces on display – an unfired clay house by Kim Juree – will be slowly dissolved in water into a puddle of mud.* Kim uses ceramics as a way of commenting on the constant cycle of urban development in modern Seoul and the disappearance of its architectural legacy. Exhibition originated by the Fondation d’entreprise Bernardaud and their guest curator Hyeyoung Cho, organised and curated for the V&A by Dr Rosalie Kim, Samsung Curator of Korean Art and supported by the Korea Foundation. Additional support provided by Samsung.


I want to investigate this idea with my work – the voices of the survivors are disappearing if they are not heard. Clay has memory, so incorporating this kind of manipulation of clay could be more interesting than just displaying an object at the end of my process.