Sung Hwan Bobby Park was a resident artist at the Glasgow St Arts Centre in Whanganui last December.

Now the Auckland ceramic artist is back with his completed project Bang Tan Mo or B.T.M Platoon exhibition at Gallery 85.

Ceramic artist Sung Hwan Bobby Park models one of the works in his exhibition for Paul Rayner at Gallery 85. Photo / Liz Wylie
Ceramic artist Sung Hwan Bobby Park models one of the works in his exhibition for Paul Rayner at Gallery 85. Photo / Liz Wylie

Park has lived in New Zealand since 2000 however he wished to maintain his South Korean citizenship and completed his military service training as a marine.

Although he enjoyed the experience, Park has some strong feelings about the conservatism and culture of the military in South Korea.

Advertisement

"Conscripts who are proven to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can be dishonourably discharged and prevented from pursuing other life goals.

"My project is a response to that and it is about peoples' need to maintain their individuality within a system."

Park says a fake gay dating site was launched in 2017 intended to "out" members of the South Korean military.

The works in his exhibition express fragility and issues of how people's diversity everywhere is challenged for the sake of uniformity.

Park has used a standard military helmet design as the blank canvas for each of the works in B.T.M Platoon and each one has a unique design made with paint and glaze techniques.

He studied at Auckland Studio Potters where he learned from tutors like Carla Ruka, Jo Raill, Peter Collis and Jin Ho Jung.

"I came to Whanganui to meet Rick Rudd and visit his Quartz Museum.

"I've been so inspired by him and by the other amazing artists in Whanganui."

Advertisement

And it is not only Whanganui's art which has inspired him.

During his residency, Park visited Pacific Helmets in Castlecliff to observe the manufacture of their range of safety helmets.

"That was really interesting and I appreciated the experience of observing their production."

Whanganui provided Park with his first artist residency and although he was under no obligation to exhibit here, he believes it is the right setting for B.T.M Platoon.

"My work on the project started here so it is the right setting to exhibit the finished work."

B.T.M Platoon: Gallery 85, Glasgow St Whanganui. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday, 11am to 3pm.