Checking Out Gwangju

Checking out Gwangju! Malihom Artist & Exchange Programme- Korea 2012

First published 02 Sep 2012 (2196 days ago)   

Saturday has been good. We moved to another hotel down the road- a quick 8 minute walk with our wheelie luggage. Much better. Internet super fast here. 

The downtown area warms up relatively slowly in the morning but soon enough there are lots of people about- wandering into shops, into the games entertainment arcades from which you here delighted screams indicating fun. At first I thought there was a children's playground somewhere nearby.

Kok Hooi & I went off to walk around the area & we found the Cultural Exchange Centre. This is just 1 building in a whole complex that is being constructed now. An 'Asian Culture City in the Making'. Impressive stuff. We found our way through the underground walkway system which winds its way under the very busy roads & found a little weekend 'table' flea market type thing on the astro turf of the Cultural Exchange Building.

A media exhibition was on inside & we found large video screens showing various films(one based on the people who catch little fish in the huge concrete water sluice ways with a plastic bottle) , an exhibition of paintings, video displays on the centre itself & the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism, & a great mixed media presentation of the 'Why' they are investing so much into Culture, Sports & Tourism. Every visitor becomes part of the whole installation & as you walk through the tunnel, you 'walk' into the huge video screen that faces you & so you are confronted with own disheveled self!

I thought the way the small paintings were exhibited was great. The walls are all of metal sheet & so the works were put up at random in any arrangement that you like, with double stick tape. Really easy maintenance & it looked great as well.

We picked up a load of brochures including a Gwangju Art Guide & found an ad for the International Women Arts Exhibition I'm taking part in. Called "lights of Women' there are 110 women from 12 different countries taking part. Fantastic, so looking forward to the opening on the 7th Sept.

We then wandered around the corridor like streets of the funky downtown shopping area. This is really good fun. All young people, great to just watch them all in their outfits. Hair dye is huge here but not crazy colours & beauty product shops are every where. All the girls wear make up & have lovely hairstyles. The guys look like colourful mods, pastels, stripes & checks, funky sneakers & tight but short blazers on top. For ladies, leopard print seems to have gone loopy- its on everything! 


Lots of restaurants, fun little shops( that are run by the owners which have great individual style), everything reasonably priced, but you have the big retailers as well. Zara, Adidas, Sketchers, UniGlo, Starbucks(everywhere), etc. etc. We stopped off at a little resto where we could order according to picture with a set serving. Lots of barbeque or hotplate restos around the place but we just wanted something simple so this worked out great. I then wandered around checking out shops until about 3 & then went back to the hotel for a snooze & cool down.

The weather is hot but dry & in the evenings it cools down to a really lovely temperature. Very comfortable but dehydrating when walking around during the afternoons.


Kok Hooi who had met & spent time with the 2 Korean artists while they were in Penang(including Sung Wan Park & Ju Mi Hee, who's paintings are up at the Penang Global Tourism office, on Beach Street until 10 September), & the Korean writer, Park Chee Hyun(who archived the whole residency at Malihom), gave them a call & they all came over to meet us at the hotel. What a wonderfully friendly & generous bunch of people! They took us for dinner & then we stopped off for coffee at one the many coffee(all Starbucks like) places in the area. We had great fish with the usual herb leaves, pickles & condiments, & brown rice. The food is really good here.

This was a really enjoyable evening & it was great to meet these artists in their own environment. We used lots of sign language but I actually managed to dredge through my brain & come up with some French, spoken by Ju Mi Hee! 

I had breakfast on the 7th floor of our hotel on a little terrace that has great views of Gwangju. Today we meet up with Sung Wan & Ju Mi at 11.30am & we go check out Chosun University.

After this we meet up with Mr Moon & the Korean artists working with us this evening & it is hoped that we move into the Asian Arts centre by tomorrow. I guess we will be busy with finding materials to work with tomorrow & both Kok Hooi & myself are actually getting pretty itchy wanting to get to work!

Looking forward to another good day!