A taste of Korea at artist's exhibition in Buckingham

Buckingham photographer shows his work and talks about his nine years in Korea, in aid of Citizens Advice charity
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A Buckingham photographer who spent nine years living in South Korea is holding a private view of his work this weekend at the Old Gaol.

This will be Martyn Thompson's first full exhibition of photography from his time in Korea.

Martyn is a trustee of BACAB, the charity that raises funds for Citizens Advice in Buckingham and Winslow, and 50 per cent of all sales will be donated to BACAB.

Photograph by Martyn ThompsonPhotograph by Martyn Thompson
Photograph by Martyn Thompson

At the private view on Friday, March 4, from 7pm to 9pm, Martyn and his Korean wife, Ji-Hey Kim, will wear traditional dress and Ji-Hey will give an explanation of Korean dress and customs.

The £20 entrance fee will also include include a drink of makkeoli (Korean rice wine), a selection of homemade Korean food by Ji-Hey, an artist's talk and video, a talk by chair of BACAB Jane Mordue and an art auction.

A separate showing on Saturday, March 5, from 5pm to 7pm, will include Korean snacks, a short artist's talk and a talk by chair of BACAB Jane Mordue.

Tickets for Friday's event are £20 and £5 for Saturday from bacab.org.uk/event-tickets and all ticket fees go directly to BACAB.

Photograph by Martyn ThompsonPhotograph by Martyn Thompson
Photograph by Martyn Thompson

Martyn, who grew up in Buckingham, moved to Korea in 2007 to teach English.

He said: "The idea was to stay for six months or a year just to see how things went, and then I met my wife out there, and that was a good enough reason to stay."

The couple got married in Korea and now have two sons, David, aged 10, and Nick, aged six, who were both born over there.

The family moved back to Buckingham in 2016.

Picture by Martyn ThompsonPicture by Martyn Thompson
Picture by Martyn Thompson

Now aged 39, Martyn, is the youngest member of the BACAB trustees, and he hopes this event will attract more people to find out about what the charity does.

Asked how his time in Korea influenced his work, Martyn said: "I certainly think that the physical environment had a really big impact on the work.

"You go from a country that's fairly flat like the UK, to a city of over a million on the edge of Seoul.

"Everyone lives in apartment blocks, it's very mountainous landscape. The whole peninsula, there's a ridge that runs right down the middle with lots of different mountains for going hiking.

Photograph by Martyn ThompsonPhotograph by Martyn Thompson
Photograph by Martyn Thompson

"Originally I started doing the work there, just photographing the mountains and the landscape and creating my artworks from those pictures."

Most of the landscapes in the exhibition are circular panoramic pictures, using up to 400 overlapping images, in the style of David Hockney - who Martyn says was a big influence on him at university.

Other pictures belong to a series Martyn did in response to the 2014 Korean ferry disaster, in which 304 people died, many of them high school students.

For one image, featuring three students who had lost friends in the disaster, Martyn used a stamping process, using the Chinese character for grief.

Other subjects in the exhibition include animal welfare, Korean clothing and customs and perceptions of nudity within the Korean peninsula.

Martyn said: "Whilst in Korea I focused on the conflicts within modern-day Korean society, as the nation is driven forward with huge technological advancements whilst desperately trying to cling on to its cultural roots.

Photograph by Martyn ThompsonPhotograph by Martyn Thompson
Photograph by Martyn Thompson

"Whilst the work is predominantly photographical, there are elements of print making and sculpture that will be on display, as well as a special short video piece that will played during the opening event."