Ai Weiwei Sculpture for Somerset House

A large scale public sculpture by China’s most controversial artists, Ai Weiwei’s is to go on display in the courtyard of London’s Somerset House. He is best know in London for his massive Tate/ Unilever commission in the Turbine Hall last autumn. Weiwei filled the vast space with over 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds. Which viewers were encouraged to walk through. Unfortunately the porcelain dust raised a health risk and the exhibit was roped off to the public.

The latest work which debuted at the 29th Sao Paulo Bienal, consists of a Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads made up of 12 monumental bronze animals. They are inspired by traditional Chinese zodiac sculptures. The oversized heads measure (1.2m x 90cm) which will be installed in an arc around the Edmond J Safra Fountain Court, in a similar manner to the way they were once displayed. The designs were found on the fountain-clock of an 18th Century royal retreat near Beijing, called Yuanming Yuan.The original sculptures were looted from the Summer Palace in Beijing in 1860. Weiwei’s new exhibition will be the first contemporary sculpture to go on display in the Somerset House’s courtyard. The installation can be viewed from 12 May until 26 June. Weiwei is also exhibiting at the Lisson Gallery in his first solo British show in May.