The winner of the fifth edition of the annual Loewe Foundation Craft Prize was announced yesterday evening in Seoul, with the award going to the Korean weaver Dahye Jeong. She won the €50,000 prize—the most lucrative for craft in the world—for her piece A Time of Sincerity (2021), a 30cm-high basket woven entirely from horsehair.
According to Jeong, the use of horsehair is at least 500 years old. During Korea's Joseon Dynasty (14th to the early 20th century) the material was used for making men's headwear. "Although this work was done by myself alone, it is not solely my own. I have a 500 year old history behind me. This work is about the time that has accumulated, and because of this reference I am able to create this piece," Jeong says.
Her work was selected by a jury that includes the ceramicist Magdalene Odundo and Abraham Thomas, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's curator of Modern architecture, design and decorative arts.
"What's amazing about this work is that it's made out of a transluscent horsehair that looks like wire or glass. The material has a huge amount of tensile strength and so the piece has this wonderfully nervous quality," the fashion designer Jonathan Anderson tells The Art Newspaper during a podcast interview. Anderson, who is Loewe's creative director and began the prize in 2016, adds that "what is really magic is that when you walk past the work, it appears to move slightly as it catches the light and shadows."
The jury also selected two further shortlisted artists for special mentions: Andile Dyalvane for the work Cornish Wall (2019), a red earthenware coiled vessel influenced by both Xhosa culture and the Cornish coastline, and Julia Obermaier for the jewellery work Verborgen (2021).
All works by the 35 shortlisted artists are now on show at the recently opened Seoul Museum of Craft Art (SeMoCA) until 30 July.