CHILDREN feature prominently in Nie Ou's paintings. ''The innocent, uncluttered world of childhood. . . created as if through a child's eyes,'' observes Plum Blossoms Gallery. The carefree years ended for the Beijing artist with the arrival of the Cultural Revolution. Wrenched from her politically-suspect family, she was sent to a remote outpost in Shanxi Province. Hard labour didn't break her. Gradually, the gifted teenager whose art studies had been so abruptly terminated, developed a bond with the peasants and the land. When she returned to Beijing in 1978 and was accepted by the Central Academy of Fine Arts, her experiences soon found release. Nie Ou continues to paint the images of her years in exile; simple country people going about their daily lives. What has changed is her audience. Today, Nie Ou's exquisite depictions on canvas and paper can be found in some of the world's most importantprivate and public collections including that of the British Museum. They can also be seen in Origins: Nie Ou at Plum Blossoms, Exchange Square from October 20 to November 3. On display will be the artist's most important work during the last two years. WHAT lies behind those multiple staring eyes, the curtained window frames, the strange globular shapes? Only Gaylord Chan knows and after 20 years of painting his mysterious symbols, he's still in no hurry to explain them. To his bemused but ardent admirers, Chan's secret world evokes ''occult charm'' and ''tantric mysticism''. Readily apparent is his mastery of the boldest, brightest acrylic paints - but even that must now be reappraised. In his new solo exhibition Metallic Series, showing at Hanart T. Z. Gallery, Old Bank of China Building until October 23, the award-winning Hong Kong artist has broken fresh ground with metallic paints whose subtle, shimmering hues add new enigmas to theold. SIX fresh talents make their public debut in the Manulife Young Artists Series '93 on display at the Pao Galleries, Hong Kong Arts Centre until October 30. Now in its third year, the series grew out of the Arts Centre's New Talents Exhibition in 1989 and provides an excellent insight to current artistic trends among the under-30s. It also offers collectors an opportunity to do some talent-spotting and this crop, selected by a panel of curators including Dr Eva Man Kit-wah and Dr Mayching Kao, is certainly diverse. Between them, Chen Woon-tong, Warren Leung, Vincent Tong, Carol Wong, Camille Yeung and Sin Yuen offer Chinese painting and calligraphy, sculpture, photography, mixed media and installation art. IN her quest to produce paper durable enough for intaglio print-making, Jane Burrell discovered that large paper pulp made for exciting paper sculptures. Now the British artist who settled in Hong Kong in 1978 after 14 years in Ghana and won the Urban Council Fine Art Award for print-making in 1987, has taken her work a step further: Raku-fired ceramics inspired by the paper sculptures. Using the specialised technique which results in metallic effects, Burrell has produced a fascinating series which can be seen at Mandarin Oriental Fine Arts, Mandarin Hotel from October 20 to 30. Also adept with clay is Cynthia Ann Lane showing Functional Pots at the Fringe Club's Pottery Workshop from Friday until October 23. The American potter who moved to Hong Kong with her family in 1985 works with the electric wheel to produce pieces which illuminate ''the tender hidden culture of domestic life''. AT the Fringe Club Bar, Hong Kong-born British artist Nick Shearman is currently showing acrylic paintings under the title Sexy This Is Not! Watch out for Torso, featuring the back view of a naked male. Next door at the J.R. Guettinger Gallery, Chinese artist Dong Hui is offering his now-familiar semi-nude sirens - this in the guise of voluptuous earth and water spirits - in a new collection titled Gods and Goddesses (until October 28). Finally, enjoy October's offering at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre's Gallery Cafe. Latest in the venue's Tea & Art series is an exhibition by British landscape artist and architect Chris Sterry. The 50 sketches and watercolours on display chronicle 10 months' travel in Asia and are accompanied by the illustrated pages of a diary kept by Sterry's wife Susan Robertson during their journey.