Introduction & Biography
Magenta Kang is the UK’s leading practitioner of the Korean traditional techniques known collectively as Bojagi and Jogakbo.
Her work is entirely hand-stitched and ranges in scale from tiny thimbles to large overhead installation pieces; it has been hung in galleries and even been included in street protests.
Living and working in Cambridgeshire, she teaches and exhibits regularly from her studio and gallery.
For up-to-date news and galleries of Magenta's work, please visit https://www.magentakang.com/
Magenta was born Gang Gyeong-cinn in a fishing village on the outskirts of Pohang, a city on the East coast of South Korea. Although she did not learn needlework from an early age, her father was a stamp-maker and taught her calligraphy – this being her earliest experience of working with a brush and ink.
“My interest in textiles did not come until later, and initially I was more interested in fabric design than construction” she says, “although, it is impossible to be a Korean artist and not be aware of the fundamental techniques of Bojagi and the cultural significance of such works”.
At university in Korea she studied fine art before coming to the UK for post- graduate studies and to work as a textile designer. Drawing on her roots for inspiration the this led to a more careful consideration of the Korean colour aesthetic know as o-bang-sec, or “the five colour way”.
During her MA course at West Dean she specialised in tapestry, installation work and 3D pieces and it was at this point she came to personalise her use of Korean techniques by substituting the colour magenta for red and beginning to work in explicitly Korean textiles – Silk and Ramie.
The concept of wrapping as protection or healing became very important during this period and led to her adoption of the name 'Magenta' and creation of the Magenta Tree project in the grounds of West Dean college.
“I have always tried to challenge myself technically” she says, “for example by creating larger or more complicated pieces than the standard student work of pin-cushions and thimbles”.
The combination of smaller pieces in a larger frame led to the first of her larger pieces A Divided Patchwork which is a representation of the Korean border.
Every piece of Bojagi shown in the photos in this site has been hand-stitched by Magenta. She does not employ any assistants or even a sewing machine!