Exhibition at NuoArt Gallery, 798 Art District, Beijing
(2 minutes, 52 seconds)
The Great Wall
Exhibition at China Central Mall, Business District, Beijing
Jing Shan - Coal Hill Park
The artificial hill overlooking the Forbidden City
BEIJING EXHIBITION 1: WALLS AND BORDERS
The 'Walls and Borders' exhibition was generously sponsored by Culture Ireland, Belfast's Queen Street Studios, BIGsmall Artists in London, Belfast City Council, Dublin City Council, Cork City Council, Embassy of Ireland, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, CIT-Crawford College of Art and Design, Irish Centre Shanghai and the National Sculpture Factory in Cork.
Installation detail of the GREAT WALL OF
CHINA (2013) Brendan
Carved sugar cubes
and red powder. 16 x 65 x 85 cms.
WALLS AND BORDERS
exhibition curated by Fion Gunn.
China, 798 Art District, Beijing
Sculptor Brendan Jamison created ‘The Great Wall of China’ as part of the international group exhibition ‘Walls and Borders’ in this year's IRISH WAVE festival in Beijing.
It was combined with sugar cube recreations of the Belfast Peace Walls as
the exhibition presented a positive cross-cultural dialogue on how we overcome divisions in society. The third element was the Berlin Wall, complete with a Cold War American spy station built on the Teufelsberg hill in West Berlin to eavesdrop on conversations across the wall in the former Communist East Germany.
As part of the Irish Wave festival throughout March 2013, eight exhibitions were organised across the cities of Beijing and Shanghai. Director of Irish Wave, Fion Gunn, combined prominent artists from China with leading figures from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Co-curating the exhibition alongside Gail Ritchie and Zheng Xuewu, Fion Gunn stated that "Walls and Borders celebrates the coming together of Irish artists from North and South with their Chinese peers. Belfast, once a city of bloody conflict, now has a thriving art scene and 2013 is the 10th anniversary of its twinning with the city of Hefei, the capital city of the Anhui Province in Eastern China. The exhibition considers not only physical and geographical barriers and perceived political boundaries but also a fundamental pyschological border that demarcates the distinction between the individual and everything else. This boundary is cognitive rather than physical but can impact on how one interacts and negotiates space in the 'real' world."
'Walls and Borders' features a total of 25 artists and is the first cross-border exhibition in China that has received funding from city councils in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. With Belfast, Cork and Dublin city councils all on board for Irish Wave 2013, it was the most significant cross-cultural festival ever held in China.
Artworks from Northern Ireland included University of Ulster Professors Paul Seawright and Karen Fleming presenting photography and textile art respectively. On the opening night, a special Beijing performance by Brian Connolly treated the Chinese audience to contemporary live art. Meanwhile, paper sculptures were on show by Annette Hennessy, Sean Campbell displayed glass works and walls scrolls and Brendan Jamison exhibited sugar cube works.
The wealth of creativity in the Republic of Ireland was represented by Niamh Cunningham and Fion Gunn, showing alongside Chinese artists Chen Meitsen, Linying Li, Ma Yanling, Shao Kang, Sun Fu Rong, Wu Jun and Wei Bo.
Co-curator Gail Ritchie described how “in Northern Ireland, there are currently 47 peace walls, 36 of which are in Belfast alone. These walls demarcate the lines between different communities, based on religious and political belief and the first barriers were erected in 1969 at the start of ‘The Troubles’. The Great Wall of China has a much longer history than any wall or border control in Northern Ireland and the defensive characteristics of the Great Wall, similar to the border between Ireland North and South, were made up of watch towers, barracks and transportation corridors.”
Walls and Borders opened from 4-6pm on Wednesday 13 March at 3C Creative Mall, A05, 707ST, 798 Art District, No. 2 Jiu Xian Qiao Road, ChaoYang District, Beijing. Exhibition continued until Tuesday 26 March 2013
CURATOR GAIL RITCHIE'S RESEARCH ON WALLS AND BORDERS
Walls and Borders (Within and Without)
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.
Robert Frost 1915
In consideration of the project title Walls and Borders (Within and Without) one must consider not only physical and geographical barriers and perceived political boundaries but also a fundamental psychological border that demarcates the distinction between yourself and everything else. This boundary is cognitive rather than physical but can impact on how one interacts and negotiates space in the ‘real’ world.
Currently in Northern Ireland, there are 47 peace walls, 36 of which are in Belfast alone. These walls demarcate the lines between different communities, based on religious and political belief and the lengths along which they run are known as interface areas. The first barriers were erected in 1969 at the start of the Troubles and were meant to last only six months but over time they became wider, longer and more permanent. In total, they stretch over 20km and whilst still functioning as community dividers, they have also become a destination for tourists. Where walls are not physically in place, there are perceived ‘invisible’ borders within the city which locals know how to navigate or avoid.
The border which separated Northern Ireland from the South was established in 1921, running for a length of 360 km. During the Troubles, this border was heavily policed, with army checkpoints and a series of watchtowers running along the high ground . Many small border roads were blocked to prevent traffic from passing through. Since the Northern Ireland peace process, military activity has been replaced by police checks monitoring immigration controls and smuggling. Unlike other borders in the EU, the Irish border is not marked by either government.
The Great Wall of China has a much longer history than any wall or border control in Ireland yet primarily the initial aim was the same: to protect the state, to prevent smuggling and to control immigration. The defensive characteristics of the Great Wall, similar to the border between Ireland North and South, were made up of watch towers, barracks and transportation corridors. Now, it also serves as a tourist destination as defense capabilities and needs have changed over time.
The question for both of the above types of walls and borders is this: If we think of state built borders and walls as physical barriers, do we also imagine that they protect us in some way? What happens then with events which are not governed by human made boundaries and can in fact overcome them? (earthquake /aerial terrorism etc). In this scenario, how far do we extend or retract our personal boundaries and how much do we retreat behind our own psychological walls?
Gail Ritchie, February 2013
BEIJING EXHIBITION 2: A TALE OF TWO CITIES - DUBLIN/BEIJING
FOUNTAIN (2013) Brendan Jamison, carved sugar cubes, 80 x 20 x 23 cms
For Hungry Mind, Brendan Jamison exhibited a new sculpture entitled FOUNTAIN, created in Beijing from Chinese sugar cubes. This international group exhibition is a collaboration between Ireland and China, with artists exploring the centrality of food in Irish and Chinese cultures.
Saturday 16 March 14:00 - 16:00
Exhibition continued until 24 March 2013
China Central Mall
77 Jianguo Road
INTRODUCTION BY FION GUNN, FOUNDER AND CHIEF CURATOR OF IRISH WAVE
IRISH WAVE 2013 aims to enable Beijingers and Shanghainese to gain insight into contemporary Irish culture, to portray the diversity and global aspect of ‘Irishness’ and how we can collaborate creatively with one another. In 2013 we are holding a series of collaborative exhibitions in prominent and prestigious venues which are accessible to a wide and diverse section of the Beijing and Shanghai community. The exhibitions will be curated by a team of Irish artist/curators: Fion Gunn, Gail Ritchie, Sean Campbell, Debbie Dawson Pamela Hardesty and Niamh Cunningham in collaboration with Chinese artist/curators: Zheng Xuewu, Lin Lecheng, Zhuang Xiaowei and Wu Jun.
IRISH WAVE 2013 will feature a major exhibition ‘Legacy’ involving Crawford College of Art & Design, CIT Cork, the National College of Art & Design and the University of Ulster's Research Institute of Art and Design (RIAD), collaborating with Tsinghua Academy of Art & Design, Beijing and Shanghai University. This exhibition – ‘Legacy’ will open in Beijing, travel to Shanghai and subsequently come to Ireland to be hosted by venues provided by the participating institutions on both sides of the border.
‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and will be hosted by the stunning NuoArt Gallery in 798, Beijing. The gallery, which has an international reputation, will host an exceptional Preview event featuring performances by Irish & Chinese artists, musicians and composers.
A second high profile Beijing exhibition ‘Walls & Borders’ is planned to celebrate the ongoing twinning between Belfast and Hefei. Co-curated by Gail Ritchie & Fion Gunn and featuring prominent artists from Northern Ireland and the Republic. This exhibition is supported by Queen Street Studios Belfast and the Research Institute of Art & Design, University of Ulster, bringing two important elements of the Belfast art scene together in an inclusive celebration of Irish art.
There will be 3 collaborative exhibitions held in Shanghai, focussing on the deepening links between Cork and Shanghai. 2 of these will be held in the well-known TuShanWan Museum of Art:‘ReMade’ which explores ideas of transformation in all media and ‘Gather’ (curated by Sean Campbell & Debbie Dawson) which focusses on glass art and will be discreet but aesthetically linked show providing visitors with impressive insights into Irish textile and glass art. Many artists included in these exhibitions have links to the National Sculpture Factory as well as CIT. The remaining exhibition Baby, Baby will be held at the Irish Centre.