Children and teenagers enjoy Royal Academy Ai Weiwei visit and workshop with their families
Spread a Smile took 11 children and teenagers and their families to the acclaimed Ai Weiwei exhibition, including a hands-on art workshop, at the Royal Academy of Arts (‘RA’) on 29th October 2015.
Ai became widely known in Britain after his sunflower seeds installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall but this is the first major survey of his work ever held in the UK and it bridges over two decades of his career.
His works explore numerous challenging themes, drawing on his own experience to comment on creative freedom, censorship and human rights, as well as examining contemporary Chinese art and society.
The children, teenagers and their families were given VIP treatment by RA staff. In groups, they were taken around the exhibition and were given an excellent insight into the artist and his sculptures. Ai Weiwei’s monumental sculpture ‘Straight’ definitely caught their attention. The work, the heaviest sculpture ever shown at the Royal Academy, is made from straightened steel reinforcing bars salvaged from the ruins of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Following the exhibition the children, teenagers and parents were able to try their hand at creating a piece of art in a special art workshop created for the trip. They were asked to brainstorm ideas about things to protest about and those were then translated into their very own wallpaper which they designed and screen printed.
The visit took place with support from The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation and The Royal Academy of Arts.
Rhiannon Bailey, 16-years-old said, ‘It has been a wonderful and insightful experience. I have learnt so much about Ai Weiwei.’
Diana Hernandez, mother of 14-years-old Thomas, who is receiving treatment at UCH said, ‘It was a wonderful experience for all of the family. A unique and insightful way to look at art in our time. The workshop was also a lot of fun and a good way to get all of the families involved.’
Silke Durm, the RA Family Programme Officer who led the visit said, ’Today is about creating as a family. The families will talk about this for a long time in the future. (awaiting approval from Silke Durm)