The Meeting of the Waters -The Hangzhou-Beijing Grand Canal

For decades, waterways have fascinated me. Nineteen years ago I began painting the Al Khor series in Dubai. When I arrived in Beijing eleven years ago I continued to paint these fluid conduits , the canals in Beijing are now part of parks and recreation areas offering places of rest and rejuvenation to residents of the city.

Canal Bank Walk – Yuan Dadu Relics park Beijing  180x200cm oil pigment rubbing Niamh Cunningham 倪芙瑞莲2021


Residency Studio space , 15th floor of Art Park , Tongzhou


In August 2021 I spent twelve days in neighbouring Tongzhou on a painting residency for the Grand Canal Project .

The Hangzhou Beijing Grand canal is the longest man made waterway in the world.  Originally built over 2,000 years ago, bringing grain from the south to the capital in the north , it reached its peak in the 13th century connecting five river basins including the Yellow river and the Yangtze.

Residency Studio space , 15th floor of Art Park , Tongzhou


During the residency I shared a large highrise studio space with  Prof Gao Xiang from Yunnan University. We worked quite intensively , allowing each other space and quiet until meal times where he shared many thoughts, insights and stories .


The two works I made for this project are quite different, Canal Bank Walk- Yuan Dadu Relics park  is oil pigment rubbing with cloth.  I allow myself two oil paintings every year until I have finished my supplies. This slow phasing out is a long sad goodbye in terms of my painting practice but it will be eventually replaced with acrylic , mixed media and new media.  

The Meeting of the Waters 180x200cm acrylic  Niamh Cunningham 倪芙瑞莲2021

The Meeting of the Waters is the view outside the residency studio window where the famous Randeng Pagoda tower built in the 500’s stands . It  served as a landmark for barges so people knew after a very long journey  their destination was near.

Enjoying a chat with Fan Di’an President of CAFA (Central Academy of Arts) and  Peng Feng (Dean of Arts Peking University) during the opening at XinGuangDa Musuem on Saturday


A huge thank you to people who made this residency such a valuable experience , to Sophie Zhong and Mr Peng Fei of Deiruiao Culture Media  , Beijing Tongzhou bureau of Culture and Tourism  and Beijing Deruiao Culture Media, to academicians FanD’ian  and Peng Feng , to the girls张佳妮 Zhang Jiani and LiLi李莉 on the 15th floor of Art Park 9  who kindly opened early and closed late during the residency, to AK and to Rainie (華雨)  to Prof Gao Xiang for his great company throughout the residency , also for the great company of fellow artists whom I got to know on Saturday’s opening  and at the beginning of the residency  





Participating artists include:

Fan di’an, Gao Xiang, Jing Shijian, Kang Lei, Li Aiguo , Li Mu, Qiu Ting, Wang Keju,    Wang Wei, Xue Lei, Xu WeiGuo, Xiang Yang, Yuxu Hong, Zheng Lu, Zhang Lujiang , Zhang Xinquan, Anna Kazmina,  Fabio Barrera,  Jacopo della ragione, Jiri Straka, Mica, Niamh Cunningham , Sally , Santiago Barrio, Wieslaw Borkowski Jr.

I will attach media links here once they become available