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‘Aweh’ to help expat artists share their creations

Grassroots culture platform to kick off with art party in Itaewon

Drawing from an expanding pool of creative expats, comes Aweh, an innovative new project designed to share art, in its many forms, around Korea and beyond.

The “casual, creative, culture” initiative will be launched on Saturday at Seoul’s Laughing Tree Lab ― a partner of the project ― with a lively evening of artful revelry.

At the project’s core is its website. Set to go live this weekend, the site is vibrant, original and easy to navigate. It already features photography, illustrations, painting, video and music among other offerings in its artist-by-box format.

The diversity and scope of content, browsers will find, is vast.

Behind the idea are South African Ollie Walker and Dann Gaymer from the U.K.

Both being into alternative culture scenes such as skateboarding, surfing and photography, they wanted to document the other creative types they were increasingly meeting in Korea and introduce them to a wider audience.

“It just makes sense to me, being creative and productive by documenting creative and productive creatures,” said Walker. 
A shot from the portfolio of Ryan “Cracker” Janseens, a Durban, South Africa surf photographer. (Ryan Janseens)
A shot from the portfolio of Ryan “Cracker” Janseens, a Durban, South Africa surf photographer. (Ryan Janseens)

“Our No. 1 objective is to bring recognition to the people we feel deserve it,” added Gaymer, who wants the site to act as a “value-added filter,” sifting out the least interesting work and highlighting the best in one place.

“There are only so many reviews, features and exhibitions on cookie-cutter artists that you can stand before you have to do something to redress the balance.”

The pair also hope to challenge negative ideas about art and present genres in a more fluid, accessible way.

And there are bigger plans in the offing.

“The website is just the beginning for Aweh; in the future we are looking at publishing and distributing a free zine and moving into putting on unique events that embody creativity in all its forms,” explained Walker, who describes their endeavor as a “grassroots, subculture ‘brand.’”

Most of this will be done in Korea initially, but the plan is to extend the project’s reach internationally.

“We’re working on our prototype events and publications in Seoul and once they are blossoming we will plant the seeds for similar happenings in other places,” Gaymer explained.

Providing a glimpse of things to come, the launch party will involve a graffiti bee, live music, and visual and street art. Fifteen international artists will be in attendance including French audio visual artist Un Escargot Vide?, band the Used Cassettes and MC Kala.

“The launch party will be the first real physical taste of Aweh’s approach, a distillation of how we see the world,” said Gaymer.

“It’s not going to involve standing around feeling awkward with a glass of wine and a piece of cheese on a stick. It’s going to be a rocking party celebrating all the joy of creating something from nothing.”

The project’s name, Aweh, is South African slang used as a greeting or term of acknowledgement and agreement. It is, then, Gaymer and Walker’s nod of appreciation to independent artists.

Aweh is ready for submissions and takes an open-arms approach to all kinds of art.

“We’re proud to have features on fine artists alongside pieces on surf photographers, street artists and underground poets. In our eyes it’s all equally good work,” said Gaymer.

Although they do not expect artists with elite qualifications, they do ask for high standards and professionalism.

“The one sticking point is quality, but so long as you believe in your work and we can see that, your submission is welcome,” he explained.

Gaymer and Walker, both artists themselves, are ultimately driven by the belief that creativity can help brighten the world.

“Without art and music life is pretty dull, so there’s no harm in helping to spread them around,” said Gaymer.

Visit to check out the site, subscribe and submit. The launch party is on Saturday from 7 p.m. till late at Laughing Tree Lab in Itaewon. Entry is 10,000 won and includes a free drink. For more information and directions see the Aweh Launch Party Facebook page.

By Hannah Stuart-Leach (
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Korea Herald daum