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Chenyue Yuan

I am a Chinese-born illustrator and visual communicator currently based in London. Prior to attending the RCA, I lived in Guangzhou and studied Archival Science at the Sun Yet-Sen University. In my practice, I explore the experiences of people within a particular place, informed by their social histories recorded in archives and by oral story telling. My work is primarily drawing-based, using both traditional and digital media. It is rooted in image making and takes the form of comics and graphic novels. My work has received awards from the IJUNGLE, Communication Arts as well as Cheltenham Illustration Awards, and have been exhibited in Shanghai at the Pearl Art Museum, the Mix Place, and in Guangzhou at the GZNOW Gallery.

The inspiration for much of my work comes from 99% curiosity to explore the facts, and 1% pure imagination.

Growing up in a rapidly-developing city, I have a natural sense of anxiety about things that will disappear without leaving a trace, which guides me to explore the changing past within an urban space. As an illustrator, I value image making as a way of recording and preserving marginalized histories. In my recent project, I combined the process of collecting real stories from female factory labourers and recreating archival resources to inform a multi-voiced, collective narration. My research relies on personal narratives gathered from others’ memories. Thus it is important to acknowledge that intermittent fragments reflected in my work should be valued not as a singular, official history – of a place and its communities, but rather as a collective story that amplifies alternative voices.

Pearl’s Daughters is a publication that follows the lives of female labourers who worked and lived in factories, the southern part of China that first opened to the free market in the 1980s-1990s.

This book uses the true narratives of a large number of female labourers to recreate their work and life in the factories, echoing the lives in a period of change and reformation: women left the traditional agricultural lifestyle and became part of the collective economy. These stories are re-edited into one in the form of a literary collage. They gather the key moments of the women's everyday lives, portraying the endeavours and perseverance of their youth to tell a personal narrative of the unnamed in memory of the life of the last generation, our mothers.

The publication aims to preserve and share their stories beyond their own language and their own group, providing a telescope-like lens for the reader to glimpse their lives from a distance. 


Selected pages from the publication.

*If you are interested in the full book plan, please feel free to contact me:


Hardback Publication


18.5 × 26 cm, 68 pp.
Pearl's Daughters -- The Factory Life of Migrant Women (Selected Pages)


18.5 × 26 cm, 68 pp.