“It [London] has a different energy, which I really enjoy. I think London actually gives me, I wouldn’t call it creative energy, but it has a different air to me.”
Mimi Joung is a ceramist originally from Korea, who gained her masters in ceramics and art from the Royal College of Art. She has developed a range of work through installations, artist residencies and private commissions in the UK, Europe, North America and Asia. Her work focuses on issues of “displacement,” with objects addressing a wider discourse, beyond origin and usage, to reference human situations and experience. [mimijoung.com]
What is your definition of studio space?
Where I can comfortably sit down and start making. I’ve realised this because I’ve been locked down for a couple of weeks and I haven’t been to the studio so when I tried to make something at home I realised how the studio is where you can be comfortable making a mess. In the studio I can make mistakes that doesn’t matter, but at home if I make a mistake, it will make a mess and so I kind of realised that the studio is where I feel comfortable to make a mess and to go for it. That’s what I realise more and more, I mean home is comfortable, but it’s a different comfortable I think.
Collaborative/ communal studio spaces are on the rise in London. Do you believe this formula can work?
Not for me, not for me. I do actually share a studio, but I have my own area where I don’t share equipment. I’m a maker so I don’t mind the people using it, but at the same time, I kind of have quite a relationship with the materials and tools I use, which is really important. Coming to a communal space can work for some people for me, no, I really need to be caved into my work in some ways, so I really enjoy my alone time in the studio. Maybe coming into a communal space can work if you have your own area as well. That’s my thinking, but I do really enjoy meeting people. This week alone, I had three or four phone calls with my studio mates and we’re talking about how we miss our communities.
Do you believe that London has an impact on your art ?
Oh, yes. For sure.
I come from Korea and I came here to study and London gives me so much energy. When I finished my masters I moved to Newcastle, but I just really missed London. I missed the way whenever I had a couple of hours, I could just drop into the museum. Also the people I’ve met in London and I’m still constantly meeting people. It has a different energy, which I really enjoy. I think London actually gives me, I wouldn’t call it creative energy, but it has a different air to me. So that’s what I really enjoy in London, being here with lots of different backgrounds and different storytellers in the city. I do really enjoy that. Not only reading it, but I can just meet them by bumping into them. That’s actually a great thing.
Would you consider moving outside of London?
Not really! We talked quite a lot today as well, but I think my husband and I were both in the creative industry. And we both really enjoy the city. Even when we get really old I think I want to stay in London because we really enjoy cycling around, listening to music, and we really want that to be a part of our life when we’re older.
Do you think it would impact your work if you were to move out?
Yes, I think so. Not maybe a direct impact. But I think my work is about storytelling and I’m surrounded by storytellers. And there are a lot of human stories I work with, so I think that actually gives me quite a lot of ideas . I think the impact is on me living in the city, because a lot of stories I’m using are dystopian stories and at the same time as a human looking for utopia. That is something I am always working on. So yes, I think it does actually have an impact on my work.
What do you think the future of studio space will look like?
I actually wanted to move somewhere where there’s a cool play environment, so maybe instead of having landlords, maybe artists can make their own utopian environment where we can share ideas and environment, but at the same time you could be alone and creative. Like have little places where you could be alone and then just around the corner, you can go and enjoy a conversation. That’s what I think it should be, a shared environment and at the same time you have your private space to have more freedom.
How do you believe we can ensure artists remain in the city in the future?
I think maybe through petitions, we could actually make our own utopia. But obviously, we really need to work together, but I think there are some other places people find their own creative environments. And I do believe. I mean, earlier you asked me about communal spaces where you share the place, obviously, that is one solution, but long term, I think you could find your own mates to become part of an area you can actually share with so I think there are possibilities. Now I have actually seen a number of people create these kinds of places so I think if we can encourage people to do that instead of paying landlords.
How do you think artists can collaborate and communicate with developers in London to try to maintain that cultural community?
I don’t know, developers can be really good. I think most artists, we don’t really think about and understand the economics of the city as developers do. So I think it is important for us to understand what their demands are and still focus on what we are about. I really haven’t got a clue on how to do it, but I think it is important for us to keep thinking about it.