Jooyun holds a slip-cast pot in front of her prize ribbons.
Jooyun holds a slip-cast pot in front of her prize ribbons. DEIRDRE SMITH

Ceramics a Seoul-ful feeling

GETTING out of the competitive rat-race of Seoul was a major reason behind Jooyun Lim's decision to come to Australia six years ago.

As a graduate of a prestigious university with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and working in the rarefied field of ceramics, she hardly expected to end up living in a hamlet like Dalveen, gathering her own eggs and lemons and working as an apple pruner.

She almost missed out on obtaining a working holiday visa as she was already 30 years old - the cut-off age - when she applied but wishing to extend it, she needed to spend a few months working in a rural area and so came to Stanthorpe.

Meeting her now-husband, Andy, at a party was a good incentive to stay and now her formidable craft skills mean she takes out prizes in just about every competition she enters.

Her piece Sunset in the Mountains' won first prize in the ceramic category at the Warwick Show this year even if they did stand it upside-down, a story she tells with amusement.

A wheel-thrown tea set also won a first prize and most outstanding work at the Stanthorpe Show last year, while a ceramic rooster, a plate with a green tree frog and a pot also won all three prizes in the slip casting section in the Warwick show.

Thinking that ceramics was "not a real job”, she enrolled in an interior design course and while detailed hand-drawn plans of ideal apartments and restaurants came easily, she "was really bad at computing” and left the course.

She considered photography but abandoned that idea as "I'm tiny, carrying the camera bags would be so hard” before her mother inspired her to take up ceramics.

"I really got the right feeling when I did it,” she said.

"When I touch the clay, I am making something from nothing.”

While she enjoys working on her highly technical pieces, Jooyun now has a stand at the Market in the Mountains, where she is happy to "share little things” and meet people.

Her fine work is on display - should anybody have several hundred dollars to buy it - but she also has cups and small pots at much more affordable prices.

"I am really happy to see people share my little things,” she said.

"If people buy it they care about it as they paid for it.”

It's quite a change from Korea, where many of her classmates either continued to do master's degrees and then teach in universities or entered the highly competitive world of mounting exhibitions.

"It's really hard to get a job, to make money,” she said.

"There are very talented people, the successful ones, you can count them.”

Working as a tutor teaching children for five years and finding "a lot of attitude” in the art world, Jooyun decided on something different. Further study was out of the question as she couldn't afford it.

"I was 30, I couldn't ask my dad,” she said.

"I quit my job, I wanted to enjoy something else.”

That was Australia and eventually Stanthorpe.

While admitting she liked the winter as there were more people around, she would find it hard to live in Korea again.

"It is peaceful here. Life in Korea is very competitive,” she said.

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