Identity 1 of 3 IRISH WAVE exhibitions in China

IRISH WAVE 2016 “Birth of a Nation” Exhibitions in Beijing and Shanghai as part of the Irish Festival in China this March.

This post will take an overview of “Identity” exhibited at the Emerging Arts Research Centre (EARC) in 798, Beijing and a brief look at a few individual works.
* Fion Gunn gives guided tour at EARC

Fion Gunn takes the public on a guided tour with  co ordinator Glassia Lu translating

Ursula Burke (NI), Sean Campbell (NI), Pam Carroll (UK), Chuan San (China), Chen Meitsen (Taiwan), Chu You Ye (China),Tom Climent (Ireland), Joan Coen (Ireland), Elizabeth Cope (Ireland), Niamh Cunningham (Ireland/China), Raphael Fenton-Spaid (USA) Sara Fox (NI), Fu Xiaotong (China), Gao Yuan (Taiwan), Anita Glesta (Australia), Guan Wei (Australia/China), Gulistan (China), Fion Gunn (Ireland/UK), Han Qi (China), Pamela  Hardesty (Ireland), Annette Hennessey (Ireland/NI), Ashley Holmes (NI), Patty Hudak (USA/Ireland), Dorothy Hunter (NI) Jia You Guang  (China), Monika Lin (USA/China), Meng Liping (China), Michael Lisle-Taylor (UK), Liu Xu(China) , Liu Junli(China, Liu Yi Chao(China), Lizhen (China), Luo Ying (China), Dara McGrath (Ireland), Mary Mackey (Ireland), Audrey Mullins (Ireland/UK), Suzy O’Mullane (Ireland), Pan Yiqun (China), REDIC (USA/China), Gail Ritchie (NI), Shao Kang (China), Sridhar Ramasami (USA/China), Jennifer Trouton (NI), David Turner (NI), Tina Whelan (Ireland), Wang Ning (China),  Wu Jian (China), Wu Jun (China), Wu Wei (China), Wu Yan Xi (China), Yan Feng (China), Yu Ajun (China),  Zhang Xin (China), Zhu Weibin (China)



“Identity” artists with Ambassador Paul Kavanagh , standing next to him is  EARC director Ji Shou Ye and Zhuang Yun Yun next to  videographer Patrick Ketch who documented this year’s shows.




In keeping with the philosophical approach of ‘Birth of a Nation’, ‘Identity’ also explores issues around how we define ourselves, personally, socially, culturally and politically. When does pride in one’s own identity become a way of dismissing others and what do we choose our identities to constitute. Identity can also be about negatives, about what we are not.



‘In Between’ by Patty Hudak, ‘Snow White and the Dwarves’ by Luo Ying and ‘homestead’ by Jennifer Trouton Golden Fleece award winner Jennifer Troutons fine sepia ink drawings of her abandoned old homesteads on her family farm land with the backdrop of the industrial towns in the US where those relatives left to build a new life.




Exploring cultural identity my monoprints of 2 Irish dancers and 2 of choreographer Yang Liping who has successfully celebrated various aspects of ethinic minority cultures in her artform.

The monochrome pyramid canvas sky is ‘ Passing Clouds’ by Wu Jian, on the next wall is Vat of Yellow Liquid by Suzy O Mullane. More of Suzy O Mullanes portraits can be seen in the top image.

Mary Mackey’s works of women’s personal items from a generation or two earlier are haunting in the familiarity and closeness of shared memory.

IMG_2320Dai Zu copy





The traditional peacock dance is also echoed in another work but this time a collaborative work with artist Chuan San and myself . This work “Dai zu ID” explores the cultural elements of ethnic minority Dai Zu and the opening door festival, the closing door festival and the water splashing festival set in a QR code design, alas it could not be scanned by phone, but perhaps the next one we make can.


In the front room is ‘Memory of a portrait’ by Xinjiang artist Gulistan, ‘Wide World’ by Fion Gunn and Map 2 by Yang Feng. Also in the front room were a series of coastline maps on paper by Gail Ritchie “WaterwaysTriptych” referencing the boats and harbours her father served in.

Fion Gunn, The Wide World , 2015, painting, collage, 29x21 cm


Gunn’s The Wide World, features “a positive way of embracing life, rich or poor east or west , north or south, our children are the children of us all and we can ignore this at our peril and at our loss”



Chen Meitsen, “Surviving the Ruins – Dresden” and next to Meitsen’s work is Platform by Lui Yi Chao.




Joan Coen draws us into seriality of ‘Sabbath’ this showing is 24 small canvasses of an original several hundred mulitiples of the same vase which has taken on a figure shape. The process relates to the artist identity in finding freedom in repetition and variation denying the possibility of editing and refining the individual works. ‘So Young’ by Meng LiPing explores some of the youth identity of a painful recent history. ( incidentally the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the cultural revolution is May 16th 2016)



Gao Yuans, Moon series of Mother and Child reflecting the Madonna and child subject on a different continent, these women are all migrant workers who have come in from the countryside.

Ambassador looks at Liu Xu's work




Ambassador Kavanagh looks at Liu Xu’s work.







Wu Yanxi spent the early part of her career conducting narratives through her “potato people”. She said they were the perfect vehicle , ” they are straight forward uncomplicated characters that can narrate more complex stories”. Once she told me about these earlier works I needed to see these works by a Chinese artist obsessed with this theme. This work is titled “Fly with the birds” .










* with Gail Ritchie, Suzy O Mullane meets Luo Ying


Next to Gail Ritchie , Suzy O Mullane exchanges contacts with Luo Ying.





Curated by: Fion Gunn, Gail Ritchie, Niamh Cunningham, assistant curators Patrick Ketch and Steve Chen, and Chinese Co ordinator Glassia Lu in collaboration with Zhuang Yun Yun and Mr Ji Shou Ye of Emerging Arts Research Centre (EARC) 798.


P1190349A big thank you to Zhuang Yun Yun and Mr Ji Shou Ye of Emerging Arts Research Centre , to the Embassy of Ireland in Beijing- Ambassador Paul Kavanagh, Rosemary Kavanagh, cultural attache John Lynam ,  Culture Ireland , British Council Northern Ireland , Arts Council Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Bureau.

Stay tuned for the upcoming post on the centrepiece exhibition ” Birth of a Nation” held in NING SPACE. 798 this March.

To see more images please click on


EARC gallery link to the exhibition