Setbyol Oh from oh-licht, Berlin, Germany
Portrait © James.h
Berlin based Korean artist Setbyol Oh creates lamps using fine wicker and mulberry paper. It is a traditional Korean paper named hanji which has been used for hundreds of years in Korea for doors, windows, wallpaper and to make lamps in traditional houses. It demonstrates the craft artist's natural draw to materials from Korea where she was born and raised.
Hanji is made from the fibers inside the stems of one-year-old mulberry trees. The historic process of boiling and drying the fiber from the bark of trees gives the paper not only durability but also a beautiful surface that is expressed through its natural properties. Mulberry trees are especially strong and resilient to moisture, as they have to resist high humidity and large temperature differences between summer and winter. Setbyol Oh notes: "I was fascinated both by the natural and the scientific characteristics of the material, which simply retains the quality of wood.”
Setbyol Oh has been living in Germany for over 20 years. Her long stay in Germany provided Oh with an opportunity to explore her origins and so opting to use the most traditional Korean material seems to be fate. She began creating her light objects in 2012 while living on an island in the North Sea — Sylt. While experiencing a difficult time, for her the process of creating these lanterns was meditative.
The works of oh-licht embody sophisticated craftsmanship and the artist’s interpretation of Korean tradition within European culture. Oh says that craft is the point where art and technology meet; it is an act of creating something with your own skills. “I feel craft starts with the exploration of materials. I think it takes a very long time to master one material and grasp its properties in our bare hands. When this process is added to the act of creation, I think it becomes a craft work.”
The light object "Way home"
is a 6 meter long tube made of mulberry paper and wicker, in which LED lights are installed. Very thin sheets of silk paper are individually pleated and then turned into a leave shape. About 1500 of these wrinkled paper leaves are glued onto the tube's surface. This organic shape subtlety provides a warm and delicate atmosphere within a space. For artist Setbyol Oh this light object symbolizes a path that shows where she comes from and where she is going. The path is flexible and can be put in any shape or simply be laid down straight.
The first edition of "Way home" was launched at our IVORY pop-up exhibition
during Gallery Weekend Berlin 2022.Find the light object "Way home" in our Shop