A slice of life at art:gwangju:17








There are 10 international galleries showing at art:gwangju:17 at the Kim Dae Jung convention centre.   I will look at two of these the Nancy Toomey Fine Art (San Francisco) and the Leyden Gallery (London).

         Leyden Gallery Nancy                                              Nancy  Toomey Gallery                         

Leyden Gallery (London) Booth G08

Leyden Gallery is showing 6 artists , Niamh Cunningham, Hilary Ellis, Fion Gunn, Lindsay Moran Audrey Mullins and Atsuko Nakamura. Three of the artists are Irish (Cunningham, Gunn & Mullins) and I would like to thank the Irish Embassy in Korea for supporting Irish Art in Korea for this event.

Fion Gunn is showing the expansive Maritime work “Sailing past” is part of a series inspired by Gunn’s fascination with linking personal and communal narratives. She is gripped by the notion of all of us ‘sailing past’ our lives, our histories mere fleeting presences on a vast timeline.The large work attracted the crowds, drawn in to the underwater world of sea creatures, an underwater figure in an aran sweater with a flotilla of sailing boats traversing the surface.


Audrey Mullins paper work of abstracted landscapes resembling planets are of intricate mixed media and collage .







My work highlights the different values of light, the small landscape ‘Sandbags on Barrow’ has extra light reflected by the overspill of water surface of my home town of Carlow Ireland.

For ‘Mayfield 4 am’ the street light shines on a familiar patch of the garden where I grew up. This is in some way acts as a salutation to certain nocturnal animals out there who know, only too well the 4 am phenomenon of sleepless wanderings. 


Nancy Toomey Gallery (San Francisco) Booth G26

Monika Lin has been represented by the Nancy Toomey Fine Art, San Francisco for many years . Fion Gunn and I were invited to participate with the gallery for this event. Lin was showing the ‘Philosopher’s Walnuts Series’ of gilded mirror frames with dozens of tiny post human figures each posed inside a gilded half walnut shell. The collection of walnut installations are based on the idea of how fairytales condition society. In Czechoslovakia the magic from the Cinderella story derives from a walnut and not the fairy godmother.

During the guided tours Lin also spoke about the use of the non edible ‘literati’ walnuts which are used in China as a kind of hand marble, jostling in the palms of the literati, who were of course, exclusively male.


Lin was thrilled to meet a person who harvests these walnuts, a visitor the fair. Today he called by Booth 26 to leave her a gift box of literati walnuts.



Also showing at the Nancy Toomey booth is Fion Gunn’s  Immigrant Series which deals with the history of displacement of peoples, from the times when Irish immigrants arrived at Ellis Island NY in previous centuries. She is inspired by her own great grandfathers annual migrations from Cork to the US over 25 years. Also showing is  ‘Dream of Zhang He’ series “(paper with painting and collage) which is an unfolding drama of human exploration”




My portraits include a number  of the ‘Transparent Milk Series’. These are of young learners I have taught in the early years living in Beijing. The series evolved with an Irish Wave exhibition on the next generation. I read about the story of dairy Manager Jiang in X’ian  who exposed the milk powder scandal several years ago,  I decided to use a pale milk colour for these portraits. 

Some of the coloured portraits were also included such as Praha Attic (see purple portrait at the top of this post) Tony  and  Ciara  (below) . 









A big thank you to our wonderful translators Andrew Kim and Gloria Koh have been helping with our communications for our guided tours everyday at 3 pm and also to our volunteers Haeahn Ryu,   Jeong Eun Kim and So hyun Kim who helped with communications on Saturday . 

I would also like to thank Jia Jingjing贾晶晶 and Um Kee Jun  for their outstanding help with preparations and throughout this event .