Getting all formal for a moment ...
Green Thought in an Urban Shade – Words and Pictures on Urban Green Space
Irish artist Fion Gunn and English writer Kay Sexton are travelling to China to present a collaborative exhibition of paintings and texts which focuses on the public gardens of four cities, Beijing, Dublin, London and Paris. Guan Donghai, a Chinese glass sculptor is collaborating with them for the Beijing show. Tsinghua University in Beijing will host Green Thought in an Urban Shade which will run from 20 September until 4 October 2006. The preview will be formally opened by His Excellency Declan Kelleher, Irish Ambassador to China on Monday 18 September at 19.30. For further information please contact Therese Healy, First Secretary, Embassy of Ireland, 3 Ritan Dong Lu, Beijing or email Therese.Healy@dfa.ie.
Overall, Sexton and Gunn have spent two years on the project, including a month in China in October 2005 as guests of the Red Gate Gallery and have received critical and environmental acclaim:
‘A breath of fresh air in the capital, a brilliant exhibition.’ Frank Murphy, Editor, The Irish World
‘This is a highly significant exhibition.’ Mme Zhang Xiaokang, Minister-Counsellor, Embassy of China, London
‘A unique exhibition, a serious contribution to understanding the value of open space to the lives of urban dwellers.’ Aidan Hennigan, The Irish Independent
‘Fion Gunn really understands the Chinese way of seeing landscape and our love of gardens.’ Ambassador Zhang Xinsen
History of the project
Green Thought in an Urban Shade was launched at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin in February 2006; the preview was opened by His Excellency Zhang Xinsen Chinese Ambassador to Ireland. The exhibition then moved to London, at the Waterloo Gallery in May 2006 where the Preview was formally opened by His Excellency Daithi O’Ceallaigh, Ambassador of Ireland to the UK.
‘By 2050, it is estimated that 80% of humankind will live in cities. For hundreds of millions of people, that will entail a daily diet of noise, dirt, pollution and congestion - a physical and spiritual wasteland of staggering proportions. In that world, urban green spaces will play a critical role, literal oases in the wasteland, precious intimate life support systems for all those stripped of any other contact within the natural world. This highly innovative project speaks directly to that need in four great cities, with an extraordinary potential both to inform and inspire.’ Jonathan Porrit - Chairman, UK Sustainable Development Commission and Director, Forum For the Future
‘I am delighted to see the way in which the "Green Thought in an Urban Shade" programme is developing. Urban green spaces are so important for the spiritual life and sanity of city dwellers and anything to encourage their use is a good thing. Kay Sexton's efforts with this initiative will help to broaden our understanding of the role of parks in improving the quality of life of city dwellers. I am particularly glad to see these spaces inspiring new works of art and really look forward to seeing the final collection. As a former botanic garden director I am so aware of the potential of green areas to improve the quality of life and anything to promote the importance of this aspect is a good thing.’
Professor Sir Ghillean Prance FRS, VMH - Former Director, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Scientific Director, The Eden Project
‘As part of the 2005 season, based on the theme of environments, Oh! Art was extremely pleased to present a sampler of Green Thought in an Urban Shade; paintings by Fion Gunn and text by Kay Sexton, as the finale to the season last December. Existing as Oh! Art does, in an extremely urbanized area, our aims within this theme included highlighting the importance of discovery and contemplation of the surprisingly many green spaces within our environment. Fion’s paintings perfectly addressed these themes by using texture, tone and colour, beautifully highlighting the contrast between cityscape and nature, in a variety of cities. In addition, Kay’s text added another dimension; urban tales invited visitors to venture further into the world and visuals presented. The exhibition was extremely well received by Oxford House visitors and the private view event well attended.’ Kirsten Burrows, General Manager, Oh! Art at Oxford House
Fion Gunn a Streatham resident, is represented by The Barbara Stanley Gallery in London where she has also shown at the Affordable Art Fair and where she will have a solo show "Landscapes of the Tain" in March 2007. She exhibited at the Grand Marche d'Art Contemporain in Paris last year and will have a solo show at the Espace Etoile St Honore in December 2006. She has exhibited regularly at Artspace in Henley-on-Thames and at the Wine Gallery in Chelsea. Examples of her work can be viewed at Fion Gunn
As well as writing for the UK’s premier sustainability journal Green Futures – www.greenfutures.org.uk - Pushcart nominated Kay Sexton has had more than ninety short stories published. Sarah Hall (The Electric Michelangelo) chose her as runner-up in the ESSP short story contest in 2005, Kay was runner up in the Guardian fiction contest judged by Dave Eggers in 2004 and her work is widely anthologised. One story written as part of the project has been accepted for Tell Tales III, an anthology that has previously featured Maggie Gee, Kamila Shamsie and Niall Griffiths, and another was a finalist in the 2006 SLS/St Petersburg Annual Literary Contest judged by Margaret Atwood. Kay blogs about writing fiction (as if you didn't know that!) and has a regular column at www.moondance.org, performs her work live, and teaches creative writing course in Brighton, England. Her journalism and business writing details can be found at Charybdis
Both are available to discuss commissions and projects.
Green Thought in an Urban Shade has been awarded a grant by Culture Ireland and a joint residency by the Red Gate Residency Programme in Beijing.