A gold rush echoes forth

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A gold rush echoes forth

Gold has had material and symbolic values in almost every society, and has played an immense role in human history. The discovery of gold in Australia in 1851 prompted a global rush to Melbourne and changed the history of the continent. Now, to mark that historical event, a traveling exhibition of contemporary arts and crafts using gold is being held at the Seoul Arts Center in Seocho-dong.

The "Foundations of Gold" exhibition consists of works by five artists from Melbourne and five from other Asia-Pacific cities, including Seoul, and runs here until Sunday. The exhibition, initiated by the city of Melbourne, opened first in that Australian city last summer and is now traveling the five other cities: Mumbai (Bombay), Manila, Singapore, Seoul and Osaka. The five cities and Melbourne are in a city business partner network.

The show is a mixed media exhibition consisting of five categories of artworks, all incorporating gold -- jewelry, tableware, textiles, glasswork and paintings. In each category, two artists, one from Melbourne and one from one of the other five cities, exhibit their works.

"The five artists from Melbourne were matched with one each from the other five cities to exchange their ideas and views on their art and sometimes collaborate," said Jiky Shin, an official at the Australian Embassy in Seoul. Suzanne Davies, the director of the RMIT Gallery in Melbourne, a partner in the exhibition project, said the collaboration of the artists from the Asia-Pacific cities represents the cooperative work done by people from diverse cultures during Melbourne's gold rush.

Kim Ki-ra, a glass artist, is the Korean participating in the "Foundations of Gold" project. She visited Melbourne early last year to discuss the project with other participants and start her work there. "In Melbourne, I stayed at the house of the Australian glass artist Pamela Stadus," Ms. Kim said. "She was my partner in the project; I was impressed by her and other Australian artists' use of color in their glassworks." Ms. Kim said that Australian artists use rich and distinct colors in their works, influenced by the abundant colors of Australia's landscapes. "Impressed by them, I took more interest in the colors of Korean traditional paintings to reflect the unique colors of Korean nature in my works," she said.

Ms. Kim said her participation in the project has also changed her view on gold for her glassworks. "Before this project, I had been interested only in the natural color of gold and its contrast with the transparency of glass," she said. "But I came to recognize gold's historical importance because of its permanence and incorruptibility, and learned to contrast those characteristics with the fragility of glass."

by Moon So-young

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