The Art of Travel written by Luise Guest on my work for “The Painted Thread”

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The Art of Travel

“Journeys are the midwives of thought,” said Alain de Botton in ‘The Art of Travel’. Perhaps this explains why so many artists, often restless, yearning souls, have worn tracks across the globe, seeking new wonders, new experiences, new visual languages.

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Sometimes their travels are an escape from a more limited version of themselves, or from a stifling culture (think of hundreds of artists arriving hopefully in Paris in the early years of the twentieth century, pilgrims seeking the elusive ‘centre’.) Sometimes they are diasporic journeys. Sometimes an artist embarks upon a series of journeys through a willingness to seize the day, to embrace new opportunities as they present themselves. Whatever form an artist’s journey takes, it’s not tourism. A thoughtful, reflective immersion in new places, different cultures and languages, embracing the richness of visual experiences: the inevitable result is a new way of seeing and interpreting the world, and, ultimately, a change in the artist herself.

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Irish artist Niamh Cunningham has lived in many places undergoing a state of flux and change: South Africa just before Mandela became president, Hong Kong during and after reunification, and Dubai, where she saw a hypermodern city rising from the sands. A year in Prague – a city and nation in transition from one kind of political and cultural identity to another – was followed by a move to China, where she has lived and worked since 2011. Beijing, some might say, is the ultimate transitional, liminal place: a city undergoing constant, convulsive change as the grey-walled hutongs are overwritten by steel and glass skyscrapers and new ring-roads push the city ever further into the countryside.

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Cunningham’s first two solo exhibitions in Dubai revealed her ability to see cityscapes and waterways in a fresh way. The rich texture of a restless life appears in her landscape paintings; her interest in humanity and the lives of others imbues her portraits. Her work in China has sometimes focused on hidden aspects of the city, on things that no-one but an artist would notice: the shadowy silhouettes of commuters entering Lishuiqiao Subway Station, or the serried ranks of manicured potted flowers at a Beijing bus stop.

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Cunningham is as interested in the ways ordinary people navigate these densely populated urban spaces as she is in painting the beautiful mountain vistas in southern China and Yunnan. Yunnan Hillside, in contrast to her urban images, is a panorama of gently undulating terraced hills, a landscape of sinuous curves and soft greens, resembling a Chinese fairy tale.

 

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Lishuiqiao Ditie 1 and 2 reveal her talent for observing the unexpected beauty in the everyday. Racing between connecting lines she arrived at a quiet platform where a few people drifted gently, reflected in shiny, blank advertising hoardings on the opposite side. She was so struck by this image that she returned next day with a camera intending to film, but her plans were thwarted by fast-moving trains and hyper-vigilant station security. The paintings, in fiery tones of red and orange, are largely based on a vivid memory, an image that struck her artist’s eye with great force and seemed burned into the retina.

Earlier works from her time in Dubai are painted in an energetic impasto that captures the lively traffic of every possible kind of water craft across Dubai Creek. Cunningham spent hours crossing the creek in the ‘abra’ water taxis, mingling with souk workers and local commuters. These paintings successfully evoke a sense of time and place, and reveal her continuing interest in public transport, all the repeated daily journeys of city-dwellers crisscrossing the metropolis, the threads that connect individuals with the places they inhabit.

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Niamh Cunningham also works with installation, performance and textiles. The three-metre high ‘Pillar of Time’ resembles an enormous, weighty timber column in a traditional Chinese building, but with a domestic twist: each section is knitted from wool, making a connection with the craft traditions of women, so often exiled from the sphere of fine art. Cunningham suggests that our lives run on two separate calendars, the public and the private. The pillar depicts the big, newsworthy events of our time in roundels spiraling from the top: a chronology of conflict and drama. The Cuban Missile Crisis, the war between Vietnam and America, the moon landing, the end of the Berlin Wall, Hong Kong’s reunification with China, Fukushima – all these public images are juxtaposed with the personal, intimate details that go unrecorded, unremarked, except in our own dreams and memories. A spiral red line punctuated by gold discs symbolises the 450 – 550 cycles of a woman’s life, and the private memories of births and miscarriages. Cunningham knitted sections of this diary-like work in her early days in Beijing, as she travelled around the city by bus: art inserted into the everyday. In other textile works the artist has used her own hair, patiently knitting it into intricate installations that evoke the fragility of life.

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Lawrence Durrell, who wrote evocatively of his travels in Corfu, Crete, Rhodes and Egypt, once said, ‘You can extract the essence of a place once you know how. If you just get as still as a needle, you’ll be there.’ Cunningham’s works possess just that quality of stillness, patient observation and the rare ability to notice the unexpected beauty hidden within the ordinary.

 

Luise Guest

September 2016

 

 

 

 

The Painted Thread shows the works of three artists Gulistan, Fion Gunn and myself.

If you are in Beijing this week please come by and visit , the gallery is open from 10 am to 10pm  and also open Mondays. Bilingual lunchtime floor talks everyday.  There will be an artists presentation on the work and also a panel discussion with renowned international curator Peng Feng where interesting topics will be explored such as the trend with European public and private collections investing in art by female artists and if this trend is apparent in Asia.

A sincere thank you  to Luise Guest for the essay above on my work for the show.

 

The preview will be opened by his Excellency Paul Kavanagh, Ambassador of Ireland in China 爱尔兰驻华⼤大使康宝乐(Paul Kavanagh)阁下将亲临现场为酒会开幕

Vernissage 开幕酒会:2016-9-25 2.30pm-6:00 pm RSVP (By Invitation Only 凭邀请函)

Public Opening Hours 公众开放日:
25 September – 3 October,
2016 2016-9-25 到 2016-10-3
Venue 地址:JOY PAVILION – Mission Hills Art & Lifestyle, W109, 9 Jinhui Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 北京市朝阳区金汇路 9 号 W109 (世界城商业街 悦馆·观澜湖艺术生活空间)

Opening Hours 营业时间:
Mon-Sun 10:00 am-10:00 pm
周一到周日 10:00-22:00
Phone Number 联系电话:
+86 1391 020 1975; +86 1368 217 8431

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Niamh Cunningham- Bio 。。。个人简介-倪芙瑞莲
Link to newspaper coverage -Carlow Nationalist (click on image)

In Her Eyes, F&E 100x100cm acrylic on canvas, 倪芙瑞莲Niamh Cunningham 2019

Recent ‘China-Ireland’ exhibition Shanghai Nov 29th 2019

China Ireland exhibition at MUSEu&m, Shanghai , opening Nov 29th

Current Sculpture project HongFangzi ShaWan Sichuan
‘Whirls in the Old’ in New York at the exhibition ‘1919’

1919-Whirls in the Old Terezin acrylic on canvas 30x30cm Niamh Cunningham 2019

Gobi Heaven Art Festival August 2019

Participating in the International Artists program for this exciting event in the Gobi Dessert

Group Exhibition , Hamilton Gallery , Sligo, Ireland
Granary Art exhibition SiShui Shandong June 2019

Granary Art Exhibition SiSHui , Shangdong June 2019 click on image

Swim Duck Video …30 sec clip of original work recently shown at Bloomsday event at Embassy of Ireland Niamh Cunningham 2019
clip from Swim Duck video Niamh Cunningham 2019

Clip from 'Swim Duck' Video by Niamh Cunningham 2019

Group exhibition in Sishui, Shangdong 正在展出

Granary Art Museum , Sishui, Jining , Shandong

April /May 2019 in Budapest 近期展出匈牙利

Currently showing in Budapest Aprli- May 2019

Wandering Rocks series of portraits 游岩系列
Talk on James Joyce at Bookworm with prof Fu Hao 乔伊斯座谈会
Aritst Talk on James Joyce at Beijing Bookworm

Talk on James Joyce at Bookwork Beijing April 2019

RTE interview on preparing for upcoming group exhibition 2 min clip
Web Of Fabulous Grass – Sucrose Series Click on image for Artist Profile English &简体中文
Artist talk at Beijing Geely College Dec 11th 2018
Map and Territory project Nov -Dec 2018 at Beijing Geely University
Map and Territory

Map and Territory

Current Events 正在展出

 

即将展出:

*2019年11月装置中国—红房子首届国际户外装置创作营在乐山沙湾红房子开营 …开始阶段

 

正在展出:

2019年11月”中国 爱尔兰  MUSEu&m , 上海

 

最新动态:

*2019年11月装置中国—红房子首届国际户外装置创作营在乐山沙湾红房子开营 …开始阶段

 

*2019年8月*Gobi Heaven- August 戈壁。天堂-八月

*2019年7月”1919″ 爱尔兰  Sligo -Hamilton Gallery  

*2019年5月“胜日寻芳“ 山东济宁市泗水等闲谷艺术粮仓美术馆

*2019年4月-5月在匈牙利首都布达佩斯

*2019年4月”奥德赛——回归”群展2019年4月13日在东岳美术馆开幕。

*2018年11月-12月“地图与疆域”国际艺术邀请展 北京吉利学院

*2018年11月-12月“纸上·至上”展览,韩国光州市立美术馆北京创作中心

*2018, 10月中欧国当代艺术全球巡展·上海

2018, 9月-10月“纸上·至上”展览,沈阳市拓•空间,

2018, 6月-11月诗人叶芝日,爱尔兰,斯莱戈(SLIGO),汉密尔顿艺术画廊

*2018年8月 淮阴艺术馆提名展,淮安市

*2018, 8月 “纸上·至上”展览, 鄂尔多斯,

*2018 , 6月30日 济南“国际抽象艺术展”

*2018 , 6月17 日 纸上•至上2018 在青岛,

*2018 , 5月20 日存在-国际女性艺术展,湖南长沙,

*2018 , 4月21 日延缓的时间,4月21日-29日,红门画廊,798艺术区

*2018 , 4月20 日 挖掘,,和画廊,来鹏高尔夫俱乐部

*2018年4月-12日 挖掘, , 展览,悦美术馆,北京798艺术区

*2018年2月-3月深圳观澜版画艺术区,5个星期驻地项目

*2018年1月28日-3月3日,《红&果》,流浪美术馆融空间,新年主题艺术展,北京中关村融科资讯中心

*2017年12月,中外视觉艺术湖南展,湖南长沙梅溪新天地梅溪书院.

*2017年12月末至2018年1月末, 《时间之外》主题艺术展, 北京中关村融科资讯中心

*2017年12月, 形质与叙事, 形质与叙事, 东岳美术馆

 *2017年12月,广州新造当代艺术中心,纸上·至上 纸艺作品群展.

Upcoming Exhibitions

* Sculpture project in HongFangzu , Shawan, Sichuan , begining phase Nov 2019

Current Exhibition

*China Ireland exhibition at MUSEU&m, near the Bund , Shanghai, Nov 29th 2019

*1919 – Group Exhibition (Hamilton Gallery) in New York, Irish Consulate

*1919 – Group Exhibition Hamilton Gallery , Sligo , Ireland July – September

Recent  exhibitions:

*Gobi Heaven Art Festival , Inner Mongolia , August 2019

*A piece of Cotton Paper  9th floor gallery Songzhuang June 15th

*”Winning the Day ‘ Granary Art Centre,  SiShui , Shandong, May – June 2019

*Beyond the form of Art , Wick Art Centre , Budapest, Hungary may 2019

*Odyssey The Return ; group exhibition at Dong Yue Art Museum, Beijing  in April

Map and Territory Art IRRCA at Beijing Geely College Nov 20- Dec 20 2018

*Thousands of Sprouts, an experimental online exhibition – by Elizabeth Ross  Nov 2018

* On Paper Supreme, Gwangju Art Museum Beijing Creative Centre Songzhuang Nov- Dec 2018

*China Europe Internaitional Contemporary Art Global Tour Shanghai Oct 2018

*An Irish Airman foresees his Death – Hamilton Gallery Sligo, Ireland June – Nov 2018

*On Paper Supreme, Extension Space, Shenyang, Liaoning,  Sept 16th – Oct 21st  2018

*Artist Nomination Exhibition, Huaiyin art gallery, Huai ‘an shi, Jiangsu, July-Aug 2018

*On Paper Supreme, Ordos Culture and Art Centre , Inner Mongolia , Aug 17th – Sept 10th  2018

*International Abstract Art , ChungChuen College, Jinan, July 2018

* On Paper Supreme, QingDao , Tiantai Art Centre, June 2018

* Existence , International Feminist Art Exhibition,  Mezzi Bookstore Art Space , Changsha

* Excavations 20 April-4th June  He Gallery, Golf Club.

*’Mortgaged Time’ 21st- 29th April at Red Gate Gallery , 798 Beijing  April 21st

*’Excavations’ 12-18th Enjoy Museum 798,  Beijing   preview 5 pm 12th April

* 5 week residency at Guanlan Printmaking base , Shenzhen (Feb-March 2018)

*Lunar New Year theme exhibition “Red Fruit” showing at Raycom IT centre, Zhongguancun,  28th Jan continues to March 3rd, organised by RoveArt , supporting the Female Protection Fund.

*Chinese & Foreign Visual Arts Hunan,  at the Meixi Academy Book Complex, Changsha Dec 26th to Jan 26th 2018.

* ‘Beyond Time’  Raycom IT Centre, Zhongguangcun, Beijing Dec – Jan 27th  2018

*”Qualitative Phase and The Narrative” Beijing Film Academy Triennial Exhibition at Dong Yue Art Museum, Beijing, curated by Li Zhen till Dec 18th 2017…………………………………………….

 

-.On Paper Supreme made its final exhibition for 2018 in Beijing Songzhuang opening Nov 16th
Group exhibition Hamilton Gallery, Sligo Ireland,
Hamilton Gallery Sligo - Lonely Impulse 2

A response to WB Yeats poem 'An Irish Airman Foresees his Death'

Group show Oct 27th Shanghai Bund 27 The House of Roosevelt House , the Bund Shanghai
Recent ‘At your Leisure’ Summer exhibition Jiangsu “悠游“——淮阴艺术馆
exhibited in Jinan curated by Ma Yi Ying
With curator Guo Zhen at the opening of Existence in Changsha , exhibition continues till end of July 2018

和策展人郭桢在开幕式《存在》

简体中文Artist Interview & Profile for the Art Project ‘Existence’
Group exhibition at Red Gate in April 2018 focussing on antiwar poet Ingeborg Bachmann
Niamh Cunningham 'Bachmann Girl' 2017

Artwork for poster is 'Bachmann Girl' 100x100cm Acrylic on Canvas by Niamh Cunningham 2017

Excavations showing at Enjoy Museum 798 April 2018

Excavations , a cross collaborative exhibition showing contemporary art by Chinese and Irish artists , showing in Enjoy Museum, 798 , 2018.4.12

Very honoured to have Irish Ambassador Eoin O’ Leary visit Chinese New Year exhibition “Red & Fruit”

Irish Ambassador Eoin O'Leary with subway paintings at Raycom Centre exhibition Feb 2018

Stay updated with Niamh’s work and her trips around Beijing

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Stay updated with Niamh’s work and her culture vulture trips around Beijing

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