The Painted Thread

The Painted Thread – Curated by Fion Gunn and Liu Pengsheng.


The Painted Thread exhibition by three artists Fion Gunn, Gulistan and Niamh Cunningham opened on September 25th 2016 at Joy Pavillion, 9 Jinhui rd CBD, Beijing.


The exhibition was installed to give the viewer unexpected movement and direction throughout the spaces whilst exploring cultural threads of memory and travel. There were seating arrangements for the viewer to sit and relax with different viewpoints around the exhibition area.

Continue reading

The Art of Travel written by Luise Guest on my work for “The Painted Thread”

The Art of Travel

“Journeys are the midwives of thought,” said Alain de Botton in ‘The Art of Travel’. Perhaps this explains why so many artists, often restless, yearning souls, have worn tracks across the globe, seeking new wonders, new experiences, new visual languages.


Sometimes their travels are an escape from a more limited version of themselves, or from a stifling culture (think of hundreds of artists arriving hopefully in Paris in the early years of the twentieth century, pilgrims seeking the elusive ‘centre’.) Sometimes they are diasporic journeys. Sometimes an artist embarks upon a series of journeys through a willingness to seize the day, to embrace new opportunities as they present themselves. Whatever form an artist’s journey takes, it’s not tourism. A thoughtful, reflective immersion in new places, different cultures and languages, embracing the richness of visual experiences: the inevitable result is a new way of seeing and interpreting the world, and, ultimately, a change in the artist herself.


Irish artist Niamh Cunningham has lived in many places undergoing a state of flux and change: South Africa just before Mandela became president, Hong Kong during and after reunification, and Dubai, where she saw a hypermodern city rising from the sands. A year in Prague – a city and nation in transition from one kind of political and cultural identity to another – was followed by a move to China, where she has lived and worked since 2011. Beijing, some might say, is the ultimate transitional, liminal place: a city undergoing constant, convulsive change as the grey-walled hutongs are overwritten by steel and glass skyscrapers and new ring-roads push the city ever further into the countryside.

Continue reading

Reality Bites- John Gerrard’s POWER.PLAY at UCCA

Curated by Philip Tinari and Guo Xi

John Gerrard’s first exhibition in China featured  Solar Reserve (Tonopah, Nevada),  Farm (Pryor Creek, Oklahoma) and  Exercise (Dunhuang) recently shown at UCCA in 798 , Beijing.

 1. SolarReserve photo:Niamh Cunningham1

Solar Reserve (Tonopah, Nevada) John Gerrard, POWER.PLAY at UCCA, 798, Beijing Summer 2016

What is real and what is a real representation are some of the internal workings going on with you as you experience these huge simulated light sculptures. These ambiguous interventions are so very similar to camera work. The slow steady panning of movement is quite hypnotic and the viewer needs time to find out how they are responding to this slightly strange yet familiar world.

But there are many layers to this new media and lucky for me Gerrard is one of the most articulate artists I have come across.

These pieces of software do not exist if they’re not energized. “The works are effectively energy in transit. That’s their condition. There is no film. There is no artifact. You simply have this set of instructions, which is bundled into an executable file. Without a computer to execute it, you have nothing. So my logic around that is that this is a very pregnant way to respond to contemporary conditions, because a lot of our realities are profoundly influenced by what I would call the algorithmic turn. Investment banking, political decision-making, military decision-making, trade, supermarkets: they are modeling reality, and, on that basis, they are making decisions about how reality is formed.”

Continue reading

Half the Sky

Half the Sky Front cover web

As with all other aspects of global life, China has a greater impact today than it did 30 years ago. But Chinese artists, especially the women, are still an unknown quantity. Luise Guest tries to tackle this shortfall in knowledge with an intriguing and well-presented look in her book, Half the Sky. At 224 illustrated pages the book highlights the work, sometimes bizarre, always thought-provoking, of the gender in China that Mao claimed held up half the sky. Anyone who has visited China know they do more than that and the 32 artists featured in the book keep the sky from falling in ways you can barely imagine.

Continue reading

Xuan Zhi Paper series available for online purchase


12.11.15, monoprint Niamh Cunningham 70 x70 cm

12.11.15, monoprint Niamh Cunningham 70 x70 cm

This series of paper works are a contemplation on process, chance and reclamation. For this series I can act as fluidly and quickly as surface tension allows creating the movement of colour captured on the xuan zhi paper. Although traditional Chinese materials are being used it is very different to the traditional brush work on paper .

Some of the works here are revisits from works on canvas, some are of intended works that have yet to reach the canvas. And others are organic abstractions of life, evolving into cellular microcosms or botanical forms.

Continue reading

The Knitted Pillar of Time

Niamh Cunningham and pillar of time copy 2Here is a short clip installing the ” Pillar of Time” at Dong Yue Art Museum August 2014. Many thanks to the team at CCTV – My China, a documentary which was filmed during the preparations for the solo show “An Eastward Calling”

I made “Pillar of Time” several years ago for an IRISH WAVE 2012  exhibition called   ”  Intimate Revolution” . While  travelling on long journeys by bus I would often take the beginning sections of this work to knit. Often there would be a woman next to me striking up a conversation ‘Are you making a sweater? ‘ No I would reply. ‘Are you making a scarf?’ No I  would answer ‘ I’m making a pillar’. Inevitably the conversation would dwindle down to a polite but confused silence……. another conversation lost in translation.


Continue reading