Shadows: Irish Wave 2014 - Beijing, China

Article text
Artist: Sean Campbell
‘SHADOWS’ is a multi-media collaborative Irish/Chinese exhibition, the first of its kind to be held

at CPPCC Culture and History Museum in XiCheng District, Beijing and part of the IRISH WAVE

2014 series of exhibitions. The Preview will be opened by Minister Brendan Howlin on 18 March.

Before we can draw the light and shadows we need to train our eyes to see like an artist.

Though light and shadow always exist together, each has different connotations both literally and

metaphorically - these meanings vary depending on the historical and cultural context.

The artists in ‘Shadows’ explore the complexities of their own emotions, the society which

surrounds them, investigating hidden areas of ambiguity, intimacy, fear and loss. Some, like

Caroline Schofield, will approach ‘Shadows’ in a playful way drawing the long history of shadow

puppetry and light play while others will explore the hidden aspects of humanity; our philosophical,

psychological and moral environment.

Mary Mackey’s ‘Other Things’ a delicate installation of wax casts conjures up images of childhood

disruption, uncomfortable responses to nurturing and maternity while also referencing shadow

puppetry, an ancient form of storytelling and entertainment. Niamh Cunningham’s paintings

capture the transience of childhood, mapping children’s faces with computer generated shadows.

Sean Campbell’s dense black glassworks appear to embody the notion of ‘shadow’ as a tangible

object in itself while Linying Li’s ‘Brussels in Winter’ portrays the city as an artifice drawn from


Ma Yanling’s evocative painting of Shanghai movie star ‘Ruan Lingyu’ conjures up a lost world,

shadowy and transient, while Fion Gunn’s ‘Urban Dreams# 2’ refers to the ‘shadow’ felt in many

countries today – the shadow of hidden wars and threats of violence. This fear intrudes on the

cultural & financial aspirations held in many developed countries and in turn creates anger and

feelings of rejection amongst those who are excluded.

The curators of ‘Shadows’ are engaging in a cross cultural conversation which does not turn away

from difficult issues and which celebrates the ability of our ‘Shadows’ to heighten and define

space, to heighten and define our ideas, our perceptions and our sense of self.

Ma Yanling is a Chinese artist with an established and wide ranging practice comprising painting,

photographic and performance works which challenge the viewer on many levels will co-curate

this exhibition with Niamh Cunningham a Beijing based Irish artist/curator & Fion Gunn, a London

based Irish artist/curator both of whom also have internationally recognised practices in a wide

range of media.

As Jung said "in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness - or perhaps because of

this - the shadow is the seat of creativity."

Fion Gunn

March 2014