Spider art and plucking

By Michael Gakuran | | Journal | 3 Comments |

spider-art-1.jpgIn a recent post about my attempts at some high-energy Spiderman Para Para, I mentioned one of the two artists, Hayoung Joo, was doing artwork based on the spider theme. We became better acquainted last week when I was summoned to her studio to once again lend my hand ‘in the name of art’. But it wasn’t actually my hand that I would be lending on this occasion. What’s more, I wouldn’t even be lending her anything…

Just past the University Union, up towards Cromer Terrace lies one of many redbrick buildings. This one in particular where Hayoung spends much of her time is devoted entirely to art projects. Each of the many rooms in the 3-storey house has a different feel to it, being decorated with half-finished projects and littered with various peculiar objects that wouldn’t usually be found in a house. It doesn’t take much to realise that that the art students have claimed this building for their own.

Hayoung’s studio is on the top floor, brightly lit by a skylight and another square window opening up and out on the street below. A couple of sets of shelves and bookcases line the left wall, filled with grubby paints pots and ink bottles, brushes and books in Korean and English. On the opposite wall is a display of her most interesting photography and artwork showing her current themes of tattooing and hair-plucking. It’s not for the faint-hearted, holding nothing back in its array of provocative and unusual imagery. Not just that, but Hayoung insists on showing me a video of her work which consists of people being plucked and recording their ‘plucked voices’. All those ‘oohs’, ‘ahhs’ and sighs of anticipation and simmering fear captured as the hair snaps from the skin. Art. *nods.


Looking back to the left wall next to the bookcases, I finally notice the collection of small, rectangular pieces of paper stuck carefully to the wall. Translucent yellow coloured paper with various patterns on them. It was only upon taking a closer look that I realised what they were, and what I was to become. They were waxing strips! Furiously ripped-out hairs all splayed out and hung up in a curious display. The more I looked, the more the display seemed riddled with the pain suffered by its victims, but it remained strangely alluring…

I had known in advance that Hayoung was after my hair. We’d been discussing it around the dinner table when her and several other people had come over to celebrate the end of the ‘Show your Gestures’ art exhibition. I had declined at that point and had her settle for just giving me a temporary tattoo. But having come this far to her studio, I knew I wasn’t going to get away lightly…

Before I knew it, 4 strips of my finest grade-A leg-hair were plastered to her cold studio wall, extending her ‘exhibition’ another column or two. She promises me my lost warmth will re-grow and shouldn’t be any less than before, but we’ll see about that. Surprisingly, it wasn’t anywhere near as painful as I thought. Much more painful was the sadistic peeling of the remaining ends of the wax strips from my red thighs by Hayoung’s friend. She seemed to be enjoying it, along with labelling my freshly waxed and reddened area as ‘chicken skin’… o.O;

Not content with ripping hair from me, she also gave me my first taste of a metrosexual makeover. I was filmed while her friend plucked a few of my eyebrow hairs. I didn’t utter a sound as it was done, which notably disappointed Hayoung, and I warned her not to dub any strange voices over my video afterwards for added ‘effect’… Particularly those of my friend who also had his stomach plucked and made no end of amusing comments.

Spider art

Enough with the plucking. Here’s what I was really fascinated by, Hayoung’s spider artwork. Done with a traditional calligraphy brush and ink on what looks to be rice paper. They have a dark, gothic feel to them and seem a little reminiscent of doodlings with the flowing strokes and dark, patterned lines. Hayoung even gave me permission to use some of them in making a new banner, which I’ll get right onto. ^_^

One of my favourite designs is below.


I’ve compiled a small selection of some of, in my opinion, her best drawings. Opinions?


And finally, her website. Some really interesting artwork and concepts there!

Hayoung Joo’s website and portfolio

Also, as a slightly random addition, I’ve uploaded a special live version of Oingo Boingo’s song ‘Spider’ that I acquired recently. It’s quite rare as it was taken from a fan-recording of a concert, but it’s still good quality!

Download Oingo Boingo – Spider (Live)

3 comments on “Spider art and plucking
  1. Paddle Brush says:

    Great! Thank for information, I'm looking for it for a long time,

  2. Chris Mepham says:

    Hey mike
    Just thought I’d comment to let you know I’ve been reading all your blogs. I went back to live journal with my writing which you can find here:

    Keep up the good work bro.

  3. Chris Mepham says:

    Hey mike
    Just thought I’d comment to let you know I’ve been reading all your blogs. I went back to live journal with my writing which you can find here:

    Keep up the good work bro.

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