Guanlan Printmaking Residency – The woodcuts and other prints


I have just returned from Shenzhen after a very special five week artists residency. This post will look at the work I made. The next post will take a look at the printingmaking base, the people and also a look at the Printmaking Museum .

I worked in the wood cut department reworking a previous painting (Huiyuan Water City). The area is of my old neighbourhood near Olympic park with the Birds Nest in the background.

(4/30) Huiyuan woodcut , Niamh Cunningham 2018 40x 120cm

5/ 30 Step One woodcut 2018 40 x 80cm paper size Niamh Cunningham

The next work was made in response to a call for an exhibition on WB Yeats Poetry. (More information to follow)

6/6/ Impulse of Delight x3 on Yellow Niamh Cunningham 2018 35 x 90cm

Both ‘Huiyuan’ and ‘Step One’ were reduction woodcuts with 3 colours. This technique uses the same wood board for printing each colour, in this case the first cut is the darkest colour working to medium and light. The photos below show the last colour for ‘Huiyuan’ .





Very honoured to be hanging next on the board to woodcut master Guan Ju





A big thank you to the fantastic wood cut technicians Jiao Jiang Hua and Ma for all your expertise and hard work. I have learned so much from you both.





The woodprint ‘Step One’ evolved from some experimental work 。。。。

Yoga Nidra and the Stone Age Selfie 

I have been practicing Yoga Nidra for around 10 years, it is a meditation done lying on the ground and an efficient way of clearing your head of muddled thoughts, insominia etc (a daily swim is usually sufficient but access to a pool is sometimes tricky). The first morning I woke up in Guanlan I practised yoga nidra and while concentrating on the contact between the body and the floor, the body and the floor , the contact between the body and the floor… it was all so clear to me, I knew what I needed to do …body prints.


I want to thank Hua Lan for her assistance and patience with me on my first day of experimenting. Hua Lan works in the seriograph department and is a highly skilled colourist.


Over the next three weeks wearing my swimsuit and googles, (yes I was really missing my swims!) I experimented with various application of colour, some directly with paint and other with vegetable oil and powdered pigment.



Sacrificial versus Confrontational

The most interesting revelation from this process is that laying the mark of the body on the surface feels very sacrificial and primal.( A minute version of this might ring true when you offer your fingerprints when crosser borders of countries or regions.) But after the process is finished the resulting body print appears challenging and confrontational .

I want to  thank the artist in residence next door Radka Hrabovska for her assistance and for taking photographs and video when working downstairs on the large table . To Tomas Zemla for editing the video which I will upload in the near future. 


And so it was from these explorations of body prints , which led to woodcut print ‘Step One’.


Monotype samples of direct application of paint . 






Many thanks to Gordon Novak for informing me of this wonderful opportunity, truly a time of gifts . A huge thank you to Zhao Jiachun Director of the PrintMaking Museum for his warm welcome and hospitality during the Chinese New Year and a special thanks to Director of the Printmaking Base Mr Guo Qingwen, for his fantastic facilitation, lending me books and showing me his impressive work in woodcut.

The next post will show more photos about Guanlan printmaking base and the time I shared with other artists.