Ai Wei Wei outside

Incredibly powerful and moving exhibition by Ai Wei Wei at The Royal Academy. He must be an incredibly brave man. Few have managed to stand up and condemn China’s suppression of human rights and free speech and yet he does it all with the unspoken word and strong imagery. Somehow that just says so much more. He continues to rock the boat and have his say, but understanding the oppression he has suffered either from beatings, imprisonment, house arrest and detention. All that has happened is that he has got bigger. I wasn’t surprised that it was one of the few exhibitions you are encouraged to take photos of and share in social media.

A Han Dynasty pot with some statement branding on!
Coca Cola

The most harrowing piece in the exhibition focuses on the tragic loss of life during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in which thousands of school children died as their schools collapsed. He campaigned for greater transparency with the names and numbers of the dead – the room is a memorial to them with all the names listed on charts down each vast wall. 1000’s upon 1000’s of names. Then there is the installation – lots of metal rods displayed that had been taken and re-straightened from the collapsed buildings. There is a short film to go with it. Totally harrowing.

He is both contentious and graceful. I feel. The first chandelier, which you glance at as you enter the exhibition turns out to be made not only of crystals and extraordinary light, but bicycles. Wheel upon wheel cascade down from the dome – it is truly magnificent and uses a classic element of life in China to make something wonderful. He is far more prolific than I’d realised. No surprise that his father was a poet.

AWW bicycles

Porcelain Crabs – there’s a story behind them:-

AWW Chinese


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