Odyssey The Return – ‘what the artists say’

Fion Gunn, Niamh Cunningham, Gulistan, Li Xinmo and Qingqing
Fion Gunn, Niamh Cunningham, Gulistan, Li Xinmo and Qingqing

In concluding his essay for this exhibition academic curator Huang Du writes 

In short, whether the featured works are abstract or imaginative, whether rational or perceptual, the five artists participating in this exhibition contemplate, to varying degrees, the links between image making and literature and what these concepts mean in their individual artistic practices. They interpret James Joyce’s work from Irish and Chinese perspectives; in a profound way and in a variety of visual languages, they reconstruct a visual Odyssey from the lens of their personal experience.

They have fully wielded their imagination, judgment and expressive power; they have expressed their lived experience from different viewpoints, either subjectively or instinctively. They have contemplated identity, critiqued gender politics, explored the classics, reconstructed artistic ontology. Ongoing and close investigation of these themes has enabled the artists to construct unique, personal and ideological visions – to develop formidable, artistic narratives with confidence. This is what will enable the viewer to find a deep sense of spiritual connection to their work.

The five participating artists say a few words about their works in the exhibition.

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Swim Duck- Blooms thoughts on water as he fills a kettle

Swim Duck (Qingdao still) Niamh Cunningham 2019

James Joyce included numerous lists in various parts of his book Ulysses.  Some of these lists were not meaningful but this list on water qualities is rich and diverse as it is poetic. It’s quite an intense moment of thought while filling a kettle (in the Chapter Ithaca ) , everything is magnified and heightened.

Swim Duck : Bloom’s thoughts when filling a kettle
(5 mins) . Artist : Niamh Cunningham

YouKu Link:


Swim Duck (Taipei undersurface outdoor still ) Niamh Cunningham 2019

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Wandering Rocks a series of portraits currently showing at ‘Odyssey the Return’

These portraits take the roles of some of characters in Wandering Rocks the 10th chapter of Ulysses. Most of the characters in the book appear or are referred to in the 10th Chapter. This Chapter doesn’t have a direct Homeric parallel. The Wandering Rocks is the route not taken by Odysseus on his return journey to Ithaca. He was advised by Circe that these drifting rocks would cause havoc and that he should not go this way.

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Week 9 Praha Attic

Praha Attic /布拉格阁楼 oil on canvas 50x50cm Niamh Cunningham/瑞莲2010

A portrait will be posted every week on this website home page throughout the year of 2019. Some are of young Chinese learners whom I used to teach in my early years in China , friends,, family and others are of artists and curators with whom I have worked over the years. 

When I lived in Prague we lived in an attic flat and often my son enjoyed popping his head out of the skylight to view the roof tops.