Monday, 30 May 2011

Trip to London Town - Wheeler discovers Ai Weiwei...

Last Wednesday my work colleagues and I were treated to a trip to London to go and see some exhibitions and soak up a bit of inspiration. 

We started off at the Design Museum, sat in the unusual glorious sunshine, and looked at the Business Insurance Awards exhibition, and also the work of Wim Crouwel. 

However, the artist that really made an impression on me was Ai Weiwei. We visited the Tate Modern, and although his infamous sunflower seeds part of The Unilever Series was being dismantled, the video of the making of the piece was still being shown and I found it fascinating, the fact that the 100 million seeds had been hand made and hand painted in China was mind blowing.
We then moved on to Somerset House where his Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads exhibition were on display in the square. Not only were they amazing to look at, but the story behind them was amazing, this site probably explains it in a lot more detail and more acurately than I can. In short, they are based on the heads that were part of a water fountain at Yuan Ming Yuan, an imperial retreat in Beijing. It was ransacked by French and British troops, and only seven of the heads have been recovered. 

    The original fountain in Bejing (Image courtesy of Wired New York)

     Zodiac Heads - you can see how big they are compared to a person (Image courtesy of Fad Website)

The heads span around the fountain at Somerset House - a more contemporary version of their original purpose
(image courtesy of Art Wednesday)

Rabbit Head - I was born in the Chinese New Year of the Rabbit. Apparently I am supposed to be creative
and ambitious (true), have copious amounts of good luck (yet to be seen) and be financially successful (again,
see above)! (Image courtesy of From My City blog)

Not many artists interest me (bit of a sweeping statement, I know) but I think because Ai Weiwei has alot of meaning behind his work, and the work is done for a purpose that is relevant and touches on topics such as the human condition, looting and repatriation (the Zodiac Heads) I think I can associate with it more. And the fact that he continues to create this kind of art inspite of the fact that it is controversial and is fully aware of the trouble that is has got him in, I respect him even more. I find it incredibly disturbing that he has now been 'detained' by the Chinese....

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