September _ Kosima’s corkscrew willow

Willow- Sucrose series (11.8) UV print on Aluminium 120x160cm Niamh Cunningham 2020 



Willow- Sucrose series (11.8) UV print on Aluminium 120x160cm Niamh Cunningham 2020 

(This artwork is currently exhibited at The Pattern that Connects at Dong Yue art Museum BJ  until Oct 3 2020)

My friend Kosima is a Mother Earth kind of gal. She is a fountain of knowledge on matters ranging from where best to hike outside Beijing to what kind of non harmful detergents to use in the house. Lately we have been chatting about the willow tree.


Kosimas corkscrew willow

Willows have always been my special friends, a weeping willow that would greet me when walking first to kindergarten and then school, its branches touching the ground, inviting a child to dive under immediately feel its protecting softness.

When we moved house, I so much wished for a big weeping willow tree behind our house – and indeed we did plant it. I remember It costing 20 DM at the time. Perhaps I even paid for it from my own money. And it is still standing proud with benches my father built, circling around its big dark trunk.

Behind the house even further there were some craggy willow trees, their branches holding on to each other, calling me to find refuge on their broad easy to climb bark where I would often read books.

Later on in life,  I moved to China and when we moved to our new courtyard it was absolutely barren.

Soon after my mother arrived for the children’s easter holidays, bringing easter egg paints and chocolate eggs – and most excitingly a branch of a corkscrew willow. It served to display our easter egg creations of hand painted blown out eggs shells. During the time she visited, the branch started to grow roots in the vase just as she had hoped. So just before she left for Germany, she planted the little sapling in our courtyard, on the west side of the entrance (just realizing that is actually the direction of Germany …)

The tree grew well throughout that summer, hardened in its first ice cold Beijing winter  – and ever since fully adapted to the local climate. It has grown so tall that we cut it back a year ago to avoid breakage from strong winds. 

Its graceful elegant leaves and soft curly branches contrast dramatically with its strong dark core, a double stem. It gracefully and sincerely represents the presence of my mother.


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!