Tiny Happiness: Sun Li Solo Exhibition

1 September - 8 October 2018 Xiamen

Organizer: Three Shadows +3 Gallery (Xiamen)

Duration: September 1 to October 30, 2018

Location: Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Xiamen


“Tiny Happiness” presented a total of 45 photographs arranged around three themes: family photographs, “The Children of Daliang Mountain,” and “Two Kilometers of Coastline.” These pictures present Sun Li’s life, but they also reflect her delight in the small yet heart-warming moments in life. 


During the opening, Sun Li and curator Zhong Linchun explained the original creative intention behind the works and the curatorial thinking in the exhibition, so that visitors would gain a clearer understanding of the show.


On September 8, Sun Li gave a talk at Three Shadows Xiamen, discussing how to take good pictures on a mobile phone. She covered the fundamentals such as mobile phone photography equipment, as well as appropriate exposure and focus, before moving on to key aspects of composition and lighting in mobile phone photography and the use of mobile phone apps in picture editing. 




Sun Li and I know each other for just a short time. One day we had a pot of tea in At Café. Most of the time I just listened. She talked about her family, her study, her photography and so on. She is a very tough person with so many stories to tell when standing behind the camera. I invited her to tell these stories to the public. It could be a very impressive work. She was a little bit nervous and asked me to wait for a while. When she was ready and could do it with more ease, then we could start.


She showed me some photos in her childhood, both solo and with others. There was a kind of melancholy in her eyes. She already knew that she was an adopted child at the early age. Alongside feeling gratefulness, she still felt hard to let go of some emotions at that time. Maybe it is destined, she fell in love with painting. She said, when she was painting, the whole world became silent. She continued painting from childhood till adulthood. It is her most precious aesthetic education. Later, painting became her eyes in photography.


She always has desires for mundane love and warmness. So she took pictures of various tiny happiness with a cell phone or a camera in daily life. She said, after taking so many pictures, those of the beloved person were the most impressive ones. She didn't realize that this feeling has later reached out to happy times of other people, just like the instant moments in her photography work Two Kilometers Coastline. When she turned the lens towards herself, she also captured some sad times. However, those tiny but beautiful moments still impressed her most, like flames in heart, warm and lively.


Once after ending a relationship, she felt quite down and sad. She went to Daliang mountain and stayed there with children, the elders and livestock. While seeing those innocent smiles and pure laughter from the children there, she suddenly felt relieved. Even if the life in that area was truly not so easy, it didn’t affect the happiness and playfulness which showed on kids’ faces. Perhaps this is the power of happiness. She wishes to tell the other people about this power with her camera. 


After so many years, she understood her family in a different way, especially her father. She then knew what kind of difficulties had happened in her father’s life, what he had done, and also his love. She said, one day she would persuade her father to tell these all out by photography. To people and things interweaved in fate, nothing could be more precious than mutual understanding and love. When we were young, we thought those things as obstacles or unbearable experience. However, when our hearts become more sensitive after cultivating tenderly, these will turn out to be the most beautiful things in our life. Just like a shell turns the sand which drops in her body into a pearl. The pearl may be tiny, but it is shining.


After walking through all these years, Sun Li’s photography expresses a kind of special tender power, love and growing things. 


ZHONG Linchun