January 31 2012
There are, of course, many treasures in the British Museum, but most are not for sale. However, The Grenville Room – located close to the main entrance – sells a range of captivating luxury items, and has numerous products made especially for it. Now in are some stunning pieces from South Korea, which are either limited edition or exclusive to the museum in the UK, and two of which are particularly head-turning.
First up is Momkid Craft Korea’s “Beautiful Woman” ceramic plate (second picture, £230). And she is indeed a beauty. The 30cm plate is a contemporary interpretation of the 18th-century work of Kim Hong-do and Sin Yun-bok. Handpainted in a traditional, delicate design, it depicts an ethereal young lady in a billowing green dress surrounded by dainty flowers and patterns. It is supplied with a black lacquerware stand, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, again in the traditional Korean style. Momkid Craft Korea is a renowned South Korean company whose ceramics were given as gifts to ministers who attended the 2010 G20 Summit in Seoul. Its pieces are made from porcelain that has been fired three times at 1,250°C, making them more durable than this delicate creature lets on.
The second piece is an exquisite extravagance: a handmade Standard 1159 fountain pen with a lid of inlaid celadon cranes and clouds (first picture, £6,000), crafted by Myongong Pens. Getting the process right takes a huge amount of skill, and Seo Syung-Wun, Myongong’s master craftsman, with over 30 years’ experience in creating fine ceramics, was the man who inlaid pieces less than 1mm wide into the lid. The celadon green is even more delicate than that of the “Beautiful Woman” plate. The metal barrel of the pen is covered in an intricate design of gold-plated brass, and both clip and nib (the latter was crafted by the German company Bock) are made of 18ct gold. Just 1,159 have been made, the number commemorating the year when the oldest inlaid celadon was discovered.