Pillar of Time

A short clip installing the ” Pillar of Time” at Dong Yue Art Museum August 2014. Many thanks to the team at CCTV – My China, a documentary which was filmed during the preparations for the solo show “An Eastward Calling”

I made “Pillar of Time” several years ago for an IRISH WAVE 2012  exhibition called ” Intimate Revolution” . While  travelling on long journeys by bus I would often take the beginning sections of this work to knit. Often there would be a woman next to me striking up a conversation ‘Are you making a sweater? ‘ No I would reply. ‘Are you making a scarf?’ No I  would answer ‘ I’m making a pillar’. Inevitably the conversation would dwindle down to a polite but confused silence……. another conversation lost in translation.



Pillar of Time Cunningham


The knitted Pillar of Time is a three metre high installation that suggests our perception of time can use two calendars , that of past public events running parallel with personal intimate histories. The past public events are knitted in circular images which spiral downwards starting from above with the Cuban Missile crises extending down to the financial crises of 2008 . The spiral red line is a personal intimate calendar of a woman, gold discs on the red spiral line indicate the 450 -550 cycles of a woman’s lifetime. Although it could be a general reference to personal histories of births, miscarriages and terminations but it is not limited to those events, it can also reference any personal history which is remembered and aligned with a public world event .



3C  Art Space, 798, Beijing  ‘Walls and Borders’ IRISH WAVE 2013


Pillar tsunamiNiamh Cunningham and pillar of time copy 2










Dong Yue Art Museum, ‘ An Eastward Calling’ (Solo) Beijing,  September 2014


Some of the public world events here include:

1962 Cuban Missile Crises

1964-1975 Vietnam

1969 Appollo

1978 China Emerging

1983 HIV identified isolated and cultured for research

1989 Berlin Wall

1997 Hong Kong reunified with China

1999 Internet becomes worldwide

2000 Human genome mapped

2001 9.11

2003 War in Iraq

Tsunami: 2004 -Asian tsunami, 2011- Fukushima tsunami

2008 Economic Crisis