Back to Gwangju: Soswaewon

This is a small painting I just completed of a wall at Soswaewon, a beautiful garden in Damyang Province outside of Gwangju. Built by Jeoson Dynasty scholar Yang San-bo (1503-1557) beginning in 1519 and developed by his heirs, it became a teaching and networking site. After the purge of 1519 which facilitated the exile and demise of his teacher Jungam Jo Kwangjo, Yang retired to Jeolla as did many courtiers similarly out of power. Soswae means "clean and purified," counterpointing poetry and the contemplation of nature to the ethics and politics of the court.

There are persimmon trees and the garden is in the midst of a bamboo forest.

Local contemporary poets offer guided tours and hold readings. When I last visited during a drizzly day in September, Una and I saw a number of magpies; so I've included a painted one here on the wall. On previous visits, I found a small hutch for a mallard pair (much larger than ours in the Pacific Northwest US).

Here is the teaching porch with calligraphy on the walls.