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Margaret Shiu, who passed away at the age of 75, was an artist, collector, cultural campaigner, and the founder of the Bamboo Curtain Studio. Born and brought up in British Hong Kong, Margaret has made invaluable contributions to the cultural world of Taiwan.
After she completed her bachelor degree in economics at Berkeley, Margaret moved to Taiwan in 1976 with her Singaporean husband and she started her artistic pursuit here in this country. With her strong interest in exploring new terrains, Margaret never limited herself in any discipline or practice. She was first considered as a pioneer of the new ceramic movement in the 1980’s, introducing new techniques and styles from the United States and later she became a leading installation artist in the 1990’s when Taiwan was undergoing a huge transformation in politics, economy, and culture. It was in that exciting period that she established the Bamboo Curtain Studio, one of the oldest and prestigious art spaces in Taiwan. When it was founded in 1995, the Studio was a ceramic workshop, but with Margaret’s resilience and persistence, this art organisation was always ready to change and adapt to new circumstances. Through her ongoing efforts, the Studio has engaged in installation art, community art, environmental art, cultural exchanges, and even policy research. It is now an art organisation well-respected in Taiwan and beyond.
Margaret Shiu was not just an artist. Holding an ambition to improve the cultural environment, Margaret was also a cultural campaigner and an active member of many associations and organisations in Taiwan. With her uncompromising attitude, the Taiwanese government started to offer fundings and support to cultural organisations regularly since the 2000’s and this is an admirable achievement envied by many fellow artists when they visit Taiwan from overseas. So much of what we enjoy is owed to this esteemed figure coming from Hong Kong, a metropolitan city that has intimate links with Taiwan and many countries around the world.
In late 2018, Margaret started preparing the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Bamboo Curtain Studio but unfortunately all projects were suspended by the pandemic first and later her illness. In a dinner party before the Lunar Calendar New Year in 2021, she surprised her colleagues by announcing her retirement and traveled to Singapore to receive further medical treatment. Despite her absence, the staff and board members of the Bamboo Curtain Studio still worked hard to make her visions happen, with high expectations of her triumphant return. Despite our hope, we were all saddened on 30th August by the passing of one of the most venerable cultural figures that we revered and honoured deeply.
Margaret, a generous and sharing person, inspired many people to join her to expand and enrich the cultural horizon of Taiwan. We would like to extend our deepest condolences to her family members and we are sure her defiant spirit will be inherited by her friends, colleagues, partners, and every one of us.