“The world where we live is full of mystery, charm and wonder. The problem is how we see it from what angle.”
This is what Pak Hyon Chol says to his students.
He is a drawing master at Jangjin Senior Middle School in Ryokpho District, Pyongyang.
‘Artwork should be novel, unique’
One day in September two years ago, Pak visited the Okryu Exhibition House in Pyongyang, in which the second national sculpture and handicraft festival was held.
On show there were over 500 pieces of sculptures and handicrafts created with such materials as paper, colour clay, resin, wood, gypsum, metal and others.
He made up his mind to present artworks produced by his students to the next festival.
On his way to office one day he repeatedly thought about the selection of materials for the handicrafts to be made and came to see the farmers sowing seeds in the field.
As his suburban school was adjacent to a vegetable farm, he usually saw them. But that day they came to his sight afresh.
“What about making handicrafts with those seeds?” he thought.
A novel idea flashed through his mind, but he hesitated the next moment.
It was not an easy job to produce an artwork with seeds which were so small that it was hard to handle.
And it was too much for his teen-aged students.
But the harsher the reality was, the more intense his aspiration for the new grew.
The thought that something new and unique could be a masterpiece was always in his mind.
It was his opinion and what he always said to his students with emphasis.
Seeds or gems?
The course of creating artworks was an occasion for encouraging new ideas of students and further cultivating their talents.
They designed their plans for artwork production as they perceived the reality that a new era of rural development has been ushered in during the study tour of several farms, including the Sosin Vegetable Farm in Ryokpho District.
They depicted the national flag of the DPRK fluttering on the new houses and flowers blooming on the mountains and fields including magnolia, the national flower, on pictures.
After completing their pictures, they stuck the seeds, which had been painted in colours through several processes, one by one to create handicrafts.
Even a handful of seeds were countless.
It required much labour to produce finished artworks with such small seeds of vegetables as perilla, radish, cabbage, Welsh onion and leaf mustard.
The students’ painstaking efforts finally bore fruit.
Of over 410 artworks presented to the Third National Sculpture and Handicraft Festival held in celebration of the 77th anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea on October 10 2022, handicrafts produced by Ji Il Hong, Pak Wi Ryok, Hong Pu Mi, O Un Jong and other students were all highly appreciated as they wonderfully represented in them what they meant with seeds to suit their features as a material for handicraft.
In particular, seed handicraft Rural Development won the tremendous admiration of visitors as it vividly portrayed the landscape of rural areas in which new houses spring up, tractors run here and there, apple trees in orchards are heavily laden with ripe fruits and golden rice plants with ears of rice wave in the wind.
“My handicraft is made up of over 20 000 seeds. When all of them reflect the sunlight, they look like gems,” said Pak Ju Hyon, a student of the school.
“It’s no accident that I chose seed as a material for artwork production. Though small, the seed is planted into the ground to grow root and trunk and bear fruit. I only wanted to bring up students to be pillars of the country like the seed,” says Pak Hyon Chol, whenever people congratulate him on many of his students winning prizes at the festival and ask him about the secret of his success.
Many of his students work at Pyongyang University of Fine Arts and fine arts production units.
He is now preparing artworks to be presented to the Fourth National Sculpture and Handicraft Festival with students.
His goal is to create mother-of-pearl handicrafts with ear shell, he said.
The theme will probably be a seashore landscape or…