A walk with the Curators- Intimate Transgressions Beijing



I have been installing group exhibitions with Fion Gunn in China for over 4 years, this recent show was different. Participating artists came from over 13 countries, each compelled to make
their statement on sexual violence as a weapon of war. The narrative for this begins with the issue of the comfort women and extends to a contemporary perspective. This project was presented by Sam Chen, president of CAPA Centre for Asian Pacific Affairs based in Flushing NYC.  Some artists had shown work in the first show in New York September 2015 and others are artists living and working in China. As co curator for this show at Inter Gallery in 798 , I was on familiar ground working with Fion Gunn and also with the venue Inter Gallery where we had already installed an Irish Wave exhibition earlier this year.








The exhibition investigates individual and collective accountability, it is not a  documentary of horrors nor a mechanism for assigning blame  but it does speak of loss and resilience, of sorrow and our shared humanity, aiming to bring insight and perspective and also to allow space for the viewer to consider what continues to happen in the world today.   This post will take you on a few of the  pathways we built for visitors to explore and learn more about this challenging subject.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 22.13.15









As you can see from the front page of the catalogue above the project is ambitious with the line up of intended venues.  Hangzhou is planned for April 2016. Hangzhou is an area where the Japanese military had a comfort women camp.






The central narrative for this exhibition is with the issue of the “comfort women” during the Japanese invasions of Asia during World War II . Large portraits of the surviving comfort women in Shanxi by Artist Gao Yuan were connected by her soaring paper planes of  indicative of military aircraft . Two portraits faced each other on opposite sides of the space . She has written over the surface of one of the portraits in red calligraphy. This is the image of  Zhang Xiantu who passed away on November 12th, she was  the last living member of a group of comfort women who sued Japan for an apology and compensation, in 2009 the crime was recognised by Japan’s supreme court but the compensation claims were rejected.

Gao yuan



Gao Yuan ,

“Say Sorry and I will Forgive You”







Pan Yiqun’s sculptures of  comfort girls are facing outwards .


7878009_origProf Pan has been working on a collaborative project in Korea , at the time of this exhibition his sculpture was unveiled in a park in Seoul next  to a Korean comfort woman statue.  Above Pan’s sculptures is a circular Ink work of trees titles “47 Alive” by Korean artist Sul Park referring to the 47 surviving comfort women in Korea .


Domestic Arrangements




This side of the space suggests a domestic setting. At first glance the arrangement of the fibre installation  “One Bed , Different Dreams” by QingQing sets an intimate home place where memories and secrets are kept. The artist is well known for her grass and plant fibre installations of Ming dynasty clothing.  Nearby the bed is her other work  “Private Memory:  About my pillow”  another fibre work encased in an antique suitcase referencing private suffering.

Meng Liping 孟丽萍, On Show Collage mounted on card, 2011, 34 x 42.5cm

Also echoing this domestic scene are the traditional type framed photography work of Meng Liping. But these collages are a challenge to historical references to  female suppression. “On Show ” is a reminder of how the use of  shame and sexuality were used in society with Meng’s response a blatant retort – this is why these women were locked in the stocks.



Parachutes low res



The work of Israeli artist Andi Arnovitz reflects on the other aspect of times of conflict, the concerns of having children who are conscripted for military service. This exhibition shows four etchings of her “Mothers and Sons” series. Umbilical cords are never really broken.




Rita Duffy’s ink and charcoal paper work “Stitch Pool” and “Running Away from Derry”  considers confinement in claustrophobic settings and areas of conflict.








Above is the work by Fion Gunn of China dolls encased in package material (see earlier post)  and Song Xin’s “Adam and Eve updated” a collage of media visual records on news relating to the comfort women issue. The printed work “Little Souls”  by Lei Yan an artist who served in the PLA  for two decades in Yunnan shows burnt children’s clothing rising upwards. As the base are small shoes partly burnt reflecting a different footwear nearby,  the pin pierced shoes of Denise Keele-Bedford.

P1180491Also showing further back was the pink printed paper work- a conceptual work “The Second Sex reading Plan ” by Lizhen and Zhang Xin.



P1180381 IMG_3257









In the centre of the gallery space is a huge black curtain tower encasing Shao Kangs suspended figure “Peach Blossom Spring” a reference to ancient poetry by Tao Yuanming representing  a respite and protection for those who have suffered.











This is guarded by the sentinel structures of Michael Lisle Taylor an artist whose earlier life served  12 years in the Fleet Arm forces. There are three military dress uniforms contorted into strait jackets or some form of restricted dress, the work speaks about the system of drill and exploration of military culture and values and their inherent psychological distortions .


Some of the video works included Atsuko Nakamura “Hidden Violence and the Scar”, Anita Glesta’s “Schillinger and the Dancer ” (I have written about this in an earlier post) Regina Jose Gallindo’s “Le Verdad ” a reading of the horrific witness accounts of indigenous Mayans in Guatamala during the 1980’s massacres in Quiche and other areas by state military troops. Our translator Glassia Lu is currently translating these harrowing accounts for Chinese subtitles  in preparation for future exhibitions in China. Phoebe Man’s video   “One Person One Heart” compiled over 800 drawings of public response on the issue of Comfort Women from people in the US, Britain and Hong Kong.

Animal References

Bop it











Gao Yuan’s film on the comfort women in Shanxi had removed the voice sound files of the women and replaced them with animal sounds. This disturbing juxtaposing of the animal is also reflected in the neighbouring work by Chen Meisten Formosa Orchids series, large scale orchids sewn from sacrificial lambskin stained in red and suspended by meat hooks . The Orchids lead a path to another animal reference, the sculpture work “Violette Nozieres” by Heide Hatry made from Pig Skin , eyes and eyelashes and meat once again calling attention to the degrading treatment of humans as  nothing more than animals.

This leads to Monika Lins work “Shadow Count”, dozens of floating ceramic lilies in plexi glass plates , each flower is a reported  rape case but the nine shadows cast represent unreported sexual violence.









Tami Xiang’s series Nuwa Awakening makes reference to an ancient feudal past where the role of women is hard to fathom in today’s contemporary world.







David Turner’s multiple hama bead images of Korean Comfort girl are dispersed on two walls. Gail Ritchie’s “Little Acts of Cruelty ”  are 15 works on the image of the plum inspired by Wing Tek Lum’s poem on the Nanjing Massacre. Next to this is Ma Yanlings photography of her ribbon series and further down Alessandro Rolandi appropriated song from war torn northern Italy during WWII .


At the opening on October 25th 2015 Rosemary Kavanagh from the Embassy of Ireland spoke about a campaign she was involved in New York calling attention to the horrific violence to Congolese women and children.  She spoke of a Security Council resolution #1820 which defines sexual violence in conflict areas as an Act of War, this resolution has an active UN committee whose job it is to monitor and implement this resolution .






Sam Chen president of CAPA also spoke of the aims of the project  and the importance of supporting awareness of the issue .

Niamh Cunningham- Bio 。。。个人简介-倪芙瑞莲
'The Pattern that Connects' is part of the Common Threads project showing at EPIC Museum Irish Emigration Museum, Dublin Feb 1- 14th

Currently Showing Oct 2022: The Sasse Museum of Art , Pomona, CA, in the US opened a photography exhibition last weekend showing a process print (23.01.2018) from my mixed media Sucrose Series "Ginkgo Palace", Niamh Cunningham 2018
The original physical sucrose plate and accompanying print on aluminium was collected at Art Beijing 2021
Promoting Connectivity through Creative Industries Sept 2022 at Yindi Art Museum, hosted by Opportunity Lab
Hair Skull recently exhibited (Oct 1st-7th 2022) at Art Plus Shanghai , the group exhibition"Linear" is curated by Chang Feng

For more information on the Hair Skull and working with DNA as an art material click HERE

Ann Derwin, Ambassador to Ireland in China with gallerist 庞春慧Peng Chun Hui at For 觅 gallery , August 2022
Currently showing - Moon Covenant

Artist talk on gathering peoples tree stories before Spitoon Book Club discussion on Pulitzer prize winning novel " The Overstory" by Richard Powers
Online Catalogue launched Jan 2022 , showing Sucrose Series alongside Microbe Art
Recently exhibited in Xishuangbanna State Art Museum Dec 2021
Canal Bank Walk , Yuan Dadu Culural Relics Park Beijing
Grand Canal artist Residency and Exhibition

Her Name Penninsula Art Museum Weihai, Shandong 16 July- 22 Oct 2021

Linear….. showing at LangKong Art Museum (朗空美术馆) 07.7-30.7.21
Suzhou Couples Retreat Gardens
The Second Step – mini solo of 18 portraits in HouHai from 6.6 tp 8.8 2021
Astro World Exit Tourism – Group exhibition June 2021
Recently ART Beijing 2021 Booth B28 Irish Contemporary Art
Early stage – Sculpture project HongFangzi ShaWan Sichuan
Current Events 正在展出


2022 9月   谷山村中国农民丰收节暨大地艺术节


2022 9月   传粉者:北京西山鼓山乡村公园的再生材料雕塑



2022 6-8“月亮之约” For觅画廊,通州,北京

2022 1 来自爱尔兰的艺术家 ,线上展览 在线链接

2022 1 清华大学精准医学研究院, EBM 中心





20217 “线性”,798朗空美术馆,北京



2021610“万物有灵——多样之美” 艺术展与企业社会责任国际论坛,北京

20216“第二步”(小型个人展),龙头井胡同JoyBeans Space,北京

20216“天体世界:出逃旅行” 蓝色港湾KUN美术馆,北京

2021年3月4月 ART Beijing 2021

202012 艺术推动可持续未来” 中国企业社会责任国际学术研讨会, 北京泰富酒店


20207  “沉默的爆破”,无锡外滩美术馆,江苏无锡, 7月11日至31日

2019年11月”中国 爱尔兰  MUSEu&m , 上海

*2019年11月装置中国—红房子首届国际户外装置创作营在乐山沙湾红房子开营 …开始阶段

*2019年8月*Gobi Heaven- August 戈壁。天堂-八月

*2019年7月”1919″ 爱尔兰  Sligo -Hamilton Gallery  

*2019年5月“胜日寻芳“ 山东济宁市泗水等闲谷艺术粮仓美术馆

2019年5月-16 爱尔兰大使馆布卢姆日的展览

20195-6  《一张棉花纸》   在宋庄东区玖层美术馆展出



*2018年11月-12月“地图与疆域”国际艺术邀请展 北京吉利学院


*2018, 10月中欧国当代艺术全球巡展·上海

2018, 9月-10月“纸上·至上”展览,沈阳市拓•空间,

2018, 6月-11月诗人叶芝日,爱尔兰,斯莱戈(SLIGO),汉密尔顿艺术画廊

*2018年8月 淮阴艺术馆提名展,淮安市

*2018, 8月 “纸上·至上”展览, 鄂尔多斯,

*2018 , 6月30日 济南“国际抽象艺术展”

*2018 , 6月17 日 纸上•至上2018 在青岛,

*2018 , 5月20 日存在-国际女性艺术展,湖南长沙,

*2018 , 4月21 日延缓的时间,4月21日-29日,红门画廊,798艺术区

*2018 , 4月20 日 挖掘,,和画廊,来鹏高尔夫俱乐部

*2018年4月-12日 挖掘, , 展览,悦美术馆,北京798艺术区




*2017年12月末至2018年1月末, 《时间之外》主题艺术展, 北京中关村融科资讯中心

*2017年12月, 形质与叙事, 形质与叙事, 东岳美术馆

 *2017年12月,广州新造当代艺术中心,纸上·至上 纸艺作品群展.

Upcoming Exhibitions:

* Gushan Rural Village Park Harvest  Autumn 2022

Current Exhibition


Recent  exhibitions:

2022 Moon Covenant Forgallery , Grasse Town , Beijing June- August

2022 Artists from Ireland (online) Sasse Museum of Art Pomona, CA, USA (catalogue link)

2022 Peoples’ Portraits EBM Centre, Tsinghua Uni Intelligent HealthCare, BJ

2021 Rhythm of Life Xishuangbanna Art Museum, Jinghong, Dec

2021 Linear Jingheng Art centre, Jinshan, Shanghai Dec

2021 Abstract China, Taizhou, Jiangsu Oct-Nov

2021 Meet the Grand Canal Xinguanda Centre Tongzhou, Oct

2021 Linear Langkong Art Museum 798, Beijing July

2021 Her Name – Existence Peninsula Art Museum, Weihai, July

2021 Silent and Soft -New Interpretations Suzhou classical Gardens June

2021 All things Bright CSR symposium Shangrila Hotel, Beijing June 10th

2021 The Second Step (mini solo) Joy Beans Space, Jiu Longtou hutong, June

* AstroWorld Kun Art Museum June 5 2021

*Portraits (solo) Joybeans  Hou  Hai 6.6-8.8

*River things  Suzhou Zhenyuan garden UNESCO world Heritage Training and Research centre June 12 th

*Art Beijing  2021 Booth B28  Garden of Friendship

*“Art promotes a Sustainable Future” China CSR international symposium Dec 2020.

*Silent Explosion, Wuxi Bund Art Centre, Jiangsu,  July 11-31 2020

* Sculpture project in HongFangzu , Shawan, Sichuan , begining phase Nov 2019

Current Exhibition

*China Ireland exhibition at MUSEU&m, near the Bund , Shanghai, Nov 29th 2019

* Sculpture project in HongFangzu , Shawan, Sichuan , begining phase Nov 2019

*1919 – Group Exhibition (Hamilton Gallery) in New York, Irish Consulate

*1919 – Group Exhibition Hamilton Gallery , Sligo , Ireland July – September

*Gobi Heaven Art Festival , Inner Mongolia , August 2019

*A piece of Cotton Paper  9th floor gallery Songzhuang June 15th

*”Winning the Day ‘ Granary Art Centre,  SiShui , Shandong, May – June 2019

*Beyond the form of Art , Wick Art Centre , Budapest, Hungary may 2019

*Odyssey The Return ; group exhibition at Dong Yue Art Museum, Beijing  in April

Map and Territory Art IRRCA at Beijing Geely College Nov 20- Dec 20 2018

*Thousands of Sprouts, an experimental online exhibition – by Elizabeth Ross  Nov 2018

* On Paper Supreme, Gwangju Art Museum Beijing Creative Centre Songzhuang Nov- Dec 2018

*China Europe Internaitional Contemporary Art Global Tour Shanghai Oct 2018

*An Irish Airman foresees his Death – Hamilton Gallery Sligo, Ireland June – Nov 2018

*On Paper Supreme, Extension Space, Shenyang, Liaoning,  Sept 16th – Oct 21st  2018

*Artist Nomination Exhibition, Huaiyin art gallery, Huai ‘an shi, Jiangsu, July-Aug 2018

*On Paper Supreme, Ordos Culture and Art Centre , Inner Mongolia , Aug 17th – Sept 10th  2018

*International Abstract Art , ChungChuen College, Jinan, July 2018

* On Paper Supreme, QingDao , Tiantai Art Centre, June 2018

* Existence , International Feminist Art Exhibition,  Mezzi Bookstore Art Space , Changsha

* Excavations 20 April-4th June  He Gallery, Golf Club.

*’Mortgaged Time’ 21st- 29th April at Red Gate Gallery , 798 Beijing  April 21st

*’Excavations’ 12-18th Enjoy Museum 798,  Beijing   preview 5 pm 12th April

* 5 week residency at Guanlan Printmaking base , Shenzhen (Feb-March 2018)

*Lunar New Year theme exhibition “Red Fruit” showing at Raycom IT centre, Zhongguancun,  28th Jan continues to March 3rd, organised by RoveArt , supporting the Female Protection Fund.

*Chinese & Foreign Visual Arts Hunan,  at the Meixi Academy Book Complex, Changsha Dec 26th to Jan 26th 2018.

* ‘Beyond Time’  Raycom IT Centre, Zhongguangcun, Beijing Dec – Jan 27th  2018

*”Qualitative Phase and The Narrative” Beijing Film Academy Triennial Exhibition at Dong Yue Art Museum, Beijing, curated by Li Zhen till Dec 18th 2017…………………………………………….


由此及彼——中(国)爱(尔兰)女艺术家邀请展 The Pattern That Connects Sept 2020
Wuxi Bund Art Centre “Silent Explosion”
My interview with Today Art Museum and Today Art Media on the COVID era

Recent Interview , click on above image April 2020

Link to newspaper coverage -Carlow Nationalist (click on image)

In Her Eyes, F&E 100x100cm acrylic on canvas, 倪芙瑞莲Niamh Cunningham 2019

Silent Explosion
‘China-Ireland’ exhibition Shanghai Nov 29th 2019

China Ireland exhibition at MUSEu&m, Shanghai , opening Nov 29th

‘Whirls in the Old’ in New York at the exhibition ‘1919’

1919-Whirls in the Old Terezin acrylic on canvas 30x30cm Niamh Cunningham 2019

Gobi Heaven Art Festival August 2019

Participating in the International Artists program for this exciting event in the Gobi Dessert

Jul.Aug 2019 Group Exhibition , Hamilton Gallery , Sligo, Ireland and also Sept 2019 at the Irish Consulate Offices , Park Ave NYC
Granary Art exhibition SiShui Shandong June 2019

Granary Art Exhibition SiSHui , Shangdong June 2019 click on image

Swim Duck Video …30 sec clip of original work recently shown at Bloomsday event at Embassy of Ireland Niamh Cunningham 2019
clip from Swim Duck video Niamh Cunningham 2019

Clip from 'Swim Duck' Video by Niamh Cunningham 2019

Group exhibition in Sishui, Shangdong 正在展出

Granary Art Museum , Sishui, Jining , Shandong

April /May 2019 in Budapest 近期展出匈牙利

Currently showing in Budapest Aprli- May 2019

Wandering Rocks series of portraits 游岩系列
Web Of Fabulous Grass – Sucrose Series Click on image for Artist Profile English &简体中文
Talk on James Joyce at Bookworm with prof Fu Hao 乔伊斯座谈会
Aritst Talk on James Joyce at Beijing Bookworm

Talk on James Joyce at Bookwork Beijing April 2019

Map and Territory project Nov -Dec 2018 at Beijing Geely University
Map and Territory

Map and Territory

Artist talk at Beijing Geely College Dec 11th 2018
-.On Paper Supreme made its final exhibition for 2018 in Beijing Songzhuang opening Nov 16th
Group exhibition Hamilton Gallery, Sligo
Hamilton Gallery Sligo - Lonely Impulse 2

A response to WB Yeats poem 'An Irish Airman Foresees his Death'

Group show Oct 27th Shanghai Bund 27 The House of Roosevelt House , the Bund Shanghai
With curator Guo Zhen at the opening of Existence in Changsha , exhibition continues till end of July 2018


Recent ‘At your Leisure’ Summer exhibition Jiangsu “悠游“——淮阴艺术馆
exhibited in Jinan curated by Ma Yi Ying
简体中文Artist Interview & Profile for the Art Project ‘Existence’
Group exhibition at Red Gate in April 2018 focussing on antiwar poet Ingeborg Bachmann
Niamh Cunningham 'Bachmann Girl' 2017

Artwork for poster is 'Bachmann Girl' 100x100cm Acrylic on Canvas by Niamh Cunningham 2017

Recent Posts
Excavations showing at Enjoy Museum 798 April 2018

Excavations , a cross collaborative exhibition showing contemporary art by Chinese and Irish artists , showing in Enjoy Museum, 798 , 2018.4.12

Very honoured to have Irish Ambassador Eoin O’ Leary visit Chinese New Year exhibition “Red & Fruit”

Irish Ambassador Eoin O'Leary with subway paintings at Raycom Centre exhibition Feb 2018

The Grand Canal (Hangzhou to Beijing) artist residency(August 2021) and exhibition (Oct 2021)

RTE interview on preparing for upcoming group exhibition 2 min clip

Currently showing as part of the Common Threads project, at EPIC Irish Emigration Museum , Dublin

Feb 1 -14th , 2023