Skip to main content
Print (MA)

Xiaoshuang Niu

Her inspiration comes mainly from her personal life experience. Her hometown in China and her family relationships form the key influences in her work. Through exploring this environment in which she grew up and her family history she connects emotionally powerful memories with personally significant objects that reflect upon her experience of both the past and the present.

These explorations may begin with objects collected at different moments in her life or with reminiscences of past events. Throughout her practice, reflecting on how materiality connects to memory and place she continues to explore how familiar materials can be reimagined in unusual and inventive ways.

Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

Print (MA)

During the period of lockdown the various restrictions in place prevented me from walking freely. Staying at home too much of the time made me start to recall and delve deeper into my own experiences of the past. I tried to combine the past with the present by recording my own superficial life experience and visualising how these small events accrue over time.

My work focuses on the connection between the individual and the family through the examining of the mundane objects that carry our memories. I have always been interested in identifying the boundary between private space and public space from the point of view of an individual's life experience. By connecting my present with the past in the form of storytelling I share my life with others and gradually explore it’s events.

This work is a diary sculpture which was made from receipts I collected from supermarkets whilst shopping in the covid-19 lockdown period.

Using my photos and diaries and shopping receipts I combined these together to make paper sculptures.

My inspiration comes from the panic buying during the early stages of the coronavirus in the UK. At that time the shelves in the supermarkets were almost empty. Everyone began to stockpile food and toilet paper including myself. A very long shop receipt I received one day made me think about the strong connection between my life and shopping.


receipt paper


Treasures inlay 1 — This work is inlaid with items from a childhood collection of mine that I found on a visit back to my hometown.
Treasure inlay 2 — This work is inlaid with items from my childhood collection that were given to me by my Mom and Grandma.
The bowl of my life — This work is made from receipts that I received during my time quarantined in a hotel on my return to China. The bowl has a heavy paper texture. Some details of receipts are visible but you can only see blue dots as evidence of the printed message previously there. The shape of the bowl explains that its materials are connected with food.
Bowl of homesick — This work looks smooth and round, like a pastry eaten during Chinese New Year. Whilst making this bowl I was reminded of the happy memory of my family preparing such buns for the Spring festival. The decoration on the bowl is a souvenir from my Dad. The flour that I used to make this bowl is from his hometown. Family reunited again around the activity of eating.

This work is related to the pandemic. Due to the various restrictions, I was unable to return to the UK as scheduled after the Christmas holidays and instead remained at home in China.

During this period I found some treasures that I had collected in my childhood along with many old things that I thought were useless and had left behind. 

I was surprised to find that although many years have passed, I still felt excited and happy with them, even though there are some items that I don’t remember very clearly. When I showed them to my family members, I got different replies. Only me, the collector and my grandmother who played with me as a child considered them to be precious. However, my Mom who did not live with me until I was 4 said they were useless.

This made me think about the connection between personal collections and memories.

I referred to the ancient decoration named Baibao Qian or ‘a hundred treasures’ inlay which utilised many luxury materials including mother-of-pearl, soapstone, malachite, steatite, lacquer and gilt bronze. So I began making my own treasure inlay. Giving the old objects another identity in a new environment, two kinds of life.


handmade paper clay, flour, coconut shell


A family of four in 2020
I am in my room
Three women of my family in 2020
Dad with his journal at home

This work examines the connection between me and my family members in 2020. The interaction between me and my family is missing this year which is very rare for my family. In these images I have changed the background to reconnect me with my family. For me, the shop receipt represents the present. The information on it, the address, the credit card number all refers to me in the here and now. The items purchased, vegetables, fruits and meat, also give important information about what it is that constitutes me. So I refer to these materials that I continue to update, as "the currently me”.



This is an album of the objects I collected in my childhood. The paper in the book is made from shop receipts collected whilst shopping in the UK in 2020. The objects imprinted into the papier-mâché were obtained from different relatives in my childhood.

During the pandemic I discovered the connection between me and markets and started to use receipts I collected in my artwork. I refer to an ancient Chinese handicraft—Baibao Qian, or "a hundred treasures" inlay in which luxury materials are inlaid onto objects. I made my own "memory inlay" using my own treasures.


11 pages

Digital print, typewriter, rubbing

Edition: 10


handmade paper


107mm*87mm, 00:00:44
Yellow — I recalled a memory about me and yellow when i saw a yellow flower in the yard. Friends always said my hair was yellow, and so did my family, because black is the usual colour of hair for Chinese. So, I got the nickname “little yellow hair”.
Green — Through encountering a Plane tree I remembered that the first time I saw this kind of tree was in my hometown Jinan which is a city in the north of China. At that time, my grandma told me, they were eye trees because they had eye-like patterns on them. When I see this kind of tree, it means I am in Jinan and my holiday begins. There is no such tree in Guangzhou where I lived with my parents in the south of China. Also, the weather. My home Guangzhou is rainy mostly all year, my hometown Jinan is so dry and there is a large temperature difference between them.

Two videos that link my current environment with familiar memories of the past through a consideration of colour. An exploration of identity using my mother tongue in a foreign land.




00:00:31, 00:00:29

China Scholarship Council