Memory Palace of Trees -the videos……. a call for your tree story


Welcome to the Memory Palace of Trees, a place where you can share your tree story.

It has been a tough year and many of us have remeasured our relationship with nature, both as individuals and as a global society .

Throughout the pandemic I have collected tree stories from people all over the world, including poets , painters , a  forester, a  dendrologist , artists, a children’s writer  and all kinds of other people .

 You can see  last years collection of stories in Memory Palace of Trees 2020 here .

This year the tree stories are in the form of a one minute video.


If you have a tree story to share I would love to add it to the Memory Palace of Trees 2021.  I can add Chinese/English  subtitles to your video.

If your tree story is later selected for future exhibitions or installations I will contact you to let you know.

Take some time to think about what you want to say , find a good tree to sit under and share your story.  Just to let you know under 60 seconds is a very short time!

I can be contacted directly on this platform or on the last page the enquiry page on my website.


Really looking forward to hearing from you .  Please ask if you have any questions about this. 


Memory Palace of Trees is a socio -ecological art practice which invites your participating to tell a story (or give some kind of information) about Trees. It is a social enquiry of how to live better with the planet and with people and other living beings. You are cordially invited to tell me your story of a tree or trees.  I would love to hear from you .






















Memory Palace of Trees – an overview


Web of fabulous grass, sucrose series, Niamh Cunningham 2018 

Memory Palace of Trees:

In October 2019  after reading the Pulitzer prize winning book ‘The OverStory’ by Richard Powers I started my plans for the socio-eco art practice ‘The Memory Palace of Trees’. It began in January 2020 at a time when the pandemic was just about to reveal itself as the most urgent global emergency of our lifetime. The pandemic is very much part of our ecological crisis and how we ‘utilize’ the natural world.  Throughout a most turbulent year, people worldwide have reappraised their relationship and dependance on the natural world. Many have turned to nature to claim a space of sanctity and sanity and some people have shared their stories with us in the Memory Palace of Trees.  

Gingko Palace  Sucrose Series 83 x 120 cm print on Aluminium  Niamh Cunningham 2020 (week 15)

Most of these are personal stories.  Submissions came from a range of different people in the US, Europe, Australia and Asia including a children’s writer, poets, dendrologists, artists, a dancer, a forester, an ant forest app user, photographers, academics and more

Ginkgo Palace UV print on Aluminium 80 x 120 cm  Niamh Cunningham  2020 

…..many of these stories inspired the makings of new artworks .


Here is a one minute video clip of the artwork for the November tree story . 

Ladybird of DongXiaokou (6 min 40 secs) video Niamh Cunningham 2020   Dancer: Zhang Yi , Music Credit: Ciorras 


I want to say a huge THANK YOU to ALL contributors and I will be in contact soon to thank each of you properly. Your stories will act as important stations (or installations) in the Memory Palace of Trees and will be a part of larger future artworks




The Second Beech  Niamh Cunningham 倪芙瑞莲2020 (week 17 of the Memory Palace of Trees)

Ice Willow , Sucrose 8.7.2020 Print on Aluminium , Niamh Cunningham -Kosimas Willow Story 




Chestnut – Park Tree Sucrose Series original Sucrose 50 x 50 cm  Niamh Cunningham 2020 (week 12)




What is a memory palace?

This is a map of a physical space with ‘stations’ containing information you want to remember, these stations are arranged in a linear journey . Here is a link to a  blog from last year  : Journey Image and Space the Memory palace workshops.


Open Call for your tree story on video 

Memory Palace of Trees will continue in 2021. This year the submissions will be in video format. If you have a story you can tell in less than a minute (less than 60 seconds), please  find your favorite tree sit under it and video yourself  on your phone telling the story. I can help with the editing and add the English or Chinese subtitles.  Please ensure the sound quality of your recording is clear.  If you are in Beijing I can come and video you if you wish. Please ask if you have any questions about this. 

Looking forward to hearing from you.  Please email me at



Jinan Tree Song  Sucrose Series, print on aluminium 158 x 120cm  Niamh Cunningham 2020

November- Dances with Trees


Delighted to feature a tree dance story this month. I met Zhang Yi a month ago at a contact improv performance and was thrilled when she agreed to come to my favourite woods to help make a video.  Special thanks also to Robert Harvey and Ciorras for permission to use the music for this video.

Ladybird of Dongxiaokou 6m40s video Niamh Cunningham 2020


Youtube link to video : 

Youku link 




I write this sitting under the shade of a big tree.  I seem to have a natural connection.  It is as if I want to protect it and at the same time be protected by it. But language can only go so far. I like to hug the tree and lean against it, as if giving myself to it. Sometimes when I lean on it, I feel a kind of steadiness, a kind of stability, a real type of support. Sometimes when I see it damaged, I also feel sad. Once I saw a pile of tree branches being cut down on the side of the road. Sometimes I see people wrapping light strips around them. I feel both helpless and apologetic… I like to hear their rustling sounds like copper bells when they are blown by the wind. I like watching them dance naturally with the wind.

      Trees also have a slow steady flow of energy. By steadying myself for a while, I feel that my energy is also stable and orderly. Observing it, I see the silent tension of life. It’ s quiet growth can withstand time. I have to live with the four seasons. There are times the wind will move and the wind will be quiet.

      I have a deep admiration for nature, and often a kind of joy. I feel that we belong to nature and we are part of it…


Contact and Improvisation:

Last winter I saw people moving freely while dancing in a way of communicating with each other, I saw people using their bodies to exchange weight, support, and play together.  Being in a relaxed state in the present moment allows “Contact Improvisation” to happen.  I see a certain kind of “relationship”, between people and the environment, and between people and nature.” A state of symbiosis. Sometimes I dance alone in the empty playground, in the soft ground, under the tree, in the sun, I feel both “independent” and “dependent”. Since I was young, I used to watch myself dancing in the mirror .I vaguely remember this blurry image of my younger self moving. The body may be my first home. I live in it in this way, watching my every move and slowly getting to know myself.

Zhang Yi Nov 2020


Zhang Yi is an contact improvisation dancer here in Beijing , she has been a fitness instructor for the past ten years.

Improv contact dancer Zhang Yi

Memory Palace of Trees 2020 is socio- ecological art practice which invites your participation to tell a story (or give some kind of information) about trees. It is a social enquiry of how to live better with the planet and with people by simply sharing stories. You are cordially invited to tell me your story of a tree or trees. (email : I would love to hear from you. Throughout 2020 a story will be posted with either an artwork already made or perhaps your story will inspire me to make a new work!