For Chilean councilor’s wife, art threads her voyages together

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For Chilean councilor’s wife, art threads her voyages together


Last Wednesday, the wives of ambassadors to Korea and Koreans flocked together to the residence of Chilean Councilor Jaime Alliende Leiva in Hannam-dong, Seoul, to see a small exhibition of jewelry. Dozens of earrings and necklaces designed by the wife of the councilor, Jimena Acuna, were placed on white clothes laid on a long table.
She used crystal, jade, coral and pearl, and matched them with clamshells and gemstones of various textures.
“I applied Korean embroidery and Japanese traditional patterns into the designs and wanted to show the ‘meeting of East and West’ through this exhibition,” Ms. Acuna said. She followed her husband to live in Panama and Japan for five years each, and has been living in Korea for four years.
Ms. Acuna said she learned embroidery from a close Korean friend. “I was fascinated with the beauty of Korean embroidery and wanted to apply them to jewelry designs,” she said.
She designed Christmas decorations in Panama. Later, she became a florist before turning to jewelry design.
“It’s always fun to learn something new while I’m living abroad,” she said. Ms. Acuna’s flower arrangement skills are comparable to those of a professional ― she received a bronze medal at the World Flower Exhibition in Goyang, Korea, in May for her flower arrangement works in the international competition category.
“I have a principle of learning the indigeneous culture of each country and applying it to my art works, such as Christmas decorations, flower arrangement and jewelry designs,” she said.
She had been making jewelry as a hobby for 22 years, but turned professional one and a half years ago. She also holds lectures on jewelry design at home every week for foreigners in Korea.
For the first exhibition for Ms. Acuna, her family members pitched in. Ms. Acuna’s second son, Cristobal, and third son, Jaime, also helped their mom thread the jewels. Councilor Alliende made invitation cards and sent them to his colleagues and friends.
“In our 19 years of marriage, my husband has always been proud of what I was doing. He never expressed it personally, but I could feel it. Even before leaving for the two-week long business trip to the APEC-related conference in Vietnam, he helped me sending out invitations until late at night,” Ms. Acuna said.
The couple has a year and a half left in Korea. Asked about her impression of Korea, she said, “Koreans have very good artistic taste.”
Her eldest son, who is studying graphic design in a college in Chile, buys loads of graphic design books in Seoul whenever he comes here, she said.
“I am especially impressed with the fact that young Korean designers create beautiful art works by combining traditions and modern style,” Ms. Acuna added.

by Choi Ji-young
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