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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)

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Testimonials

"Thank you so much for an amazing day you gave our whole family. We had such fun from start to finish!! All our efforts to provide such a wonderful day did not go unnoticed. Spread a Smile is a unique charity and I shall have great pleasure in spreading the work to all I know in helping support such a great charity! Thank you again".

Natalie Taylor

2015-04-13T03:26:29-11:00

Natalie Taylor

"Thank you so much for an amazing day you gave our whole family. We had such fun from start to finish!! All our efforts to provide such a wonderful day did not go unnoticed. Spread a Smile is a unique charity and I shall have great pleasure in spreading the work to all I know in helping support such a great charity! Thank you again".
“My daughter loves the whole team at Spread a Smile. Because of her and myself I love them too, I always admire the work they do. I feel the words "Spread a Smile" fit the team very well. Bravo to whoever has chosen the name and the team are fantastic. I don’t have exact words to express myself fully to express how good they are. Maybe I can copy my 6 year old daughter by saying they are very, very, very, very, very, very good. I pray for good health to the team and long life. My daughter gets distracted from feeling headaches when the Spread a Smile team are around. This is itself a cure for her without side effects. This space was not enough for me.”

F. Sayid

2015-04-13T03:24:56-11:00

F. Sayid

“My daughter loves the whole team at Spread a Smile. Because of her and myself I love them too, I always admire the work they do. I feel the words "Spread a Smile" fit the team very well. Bravo to whoever has chosen the name and the team are fantastic. I don’t have exact words to express myself fully to express how good they are. Maybe I can copy my 6 year old daughter by saying they are very, very, very, very, very, very good. I pray for good health to the team and long life. My daughter gets distracted from feeling headaches when the Spread a Smile team are around. This is itself a cure for her without side effects. This space was not enough for me.”
"Spread a Smile's volunteers were one of the only things that could raise a smile in our daughter during her chemotherapy. Their fairies are angels of kindness, and their magicians conjure away the pain with every visit. It's hard to explain how slowly time passes on a children's oncology ward, but Spread a Smile silenced the ticking of the clock, and remained at our daughter's side to sprinkle a little fairy dust and make her feel for a few moments like the luckiest girl in the world"

Parker M.

2015-04-13T03:17:56-11:00

Parker M.

"Spread a Smile's volunteers were one of the only things that could raise a smile in our daughter during her chemotherapy. Their fairies are angels of kindness, and their magicians conjure away the pain with every visit. It's hard to explain how slowly time passes on a children's oncology ward, but Spread a Smile silenced the ticking of the clock, and remained at our daughter's side to sprinkle a little fairy dust and make her feel for a few moments like the luckiest girl in the world"
Thank you. We can't explain just how whoever works at Spread a Smile is just so caring and sensitive to the children's needs. Also the charity is just organised with these events, from starting on time to sending photos to the families, to not rushing families at the end as it is 1.30pm. Nothing is too much.

I can't really explain just what a great charity it is and we as a family are grateful that you Let us make special memories. I wish we had known about you when my brother was alive. Please tell everyone.xxx

So thank you to everyone at Spread a Smile
from the Jain Family.
xxx❤️❤️❤️xxxx
2016-12-07T12:12:09-11:00
Thank you. We can't explain just how whoever works at Spread a Smile is just so caring and sensitive to the children's needs. Also the charity is just organised with these events, from starting on time to sending photos to the families, to not rushing families at the end as it is 1.30pm. Nothing is too much. I can't really explain just what a great charity it is and we as a family are grateful that you Let us make special memories. I wish we had known about you when my brother was alive. Please tell everyone.xxx So thank you to everyone at Spread a Smile from the Jain Family. xxx❤️❤️❤️xxxx
My daughter izzy has been fighting cancer for nearly 2 years. She is 3 years old and needs constant entertaining. No charity has ever given or done anything for izzy apart from this one. The organizers and volunteers are absolutely amazing. I have spread the word about spread a smile and I make sure that anyone that wants to send izzy a gift sends it to them instead. We look forward to seeing you on Christmas day down in fox ward. Thank you so so much for always putting a smile on Izzys face. X

Melissa

2015-04-13T03:26:57-11:00

Melissa

My daughter izzy has been fighting cancer for nearly 2 years. She is 3 years old and needs constant entertaining. No charity has ever given or done anything for izzy apart from this one. The organizers and volunteers are absolutely amazing. I have spread the word about spread a smile and I make sure that anyone that wants to send izzy a gift sends it to them instead. We look forward to seeing you on Christmas day down in fox ward. Thank you so so much for always putting a smile on Izzys face. X
"Fiona has enjoyed a wonderful day and an amazing memory of fun times with her mum and dad before her surgery tomorrow".

Andrew Moorcroft

2015-04-13T03:25:43-11:00

Andrew Moorcroft

"Fiona has enjoyed a wonderful day and an amazing memory of fun times with her mum and dad before her surgery tomorrow".
"To smile is the best medicine! Thanks for always making our whole family smile. Love and thanks Winter Family"

Winter Family

2015-04-13T03:26:04-11:00

Winter Family

"To smile is the best medicine! Thanks for always making our whole family smile. Love and thanks Winter Family"
"Spread a Smile 'does exactly what it says on the tin'. Their simple approach of showing that there is still joy, love and laughter to be experienced, even in the teeth of very real stress, is nothing short of genius. It is incredibly hard as a parent of a very sick child to be 'fun'-for them or their siblings. Today has taken that pressure off this particular parent and for that I will be eternally grateful".

Fiona Barnet

2015-04-13T03:25:19-11:00

Fiona Barnet

"Spread a Smile 'does exactly what it says on the tin'. Their simple approach of showing that there is still joy, love and laughter to be experienced, even in the teeth of very real stress, is nothing short of genius. It is incredibly hard as a parent of a very sick child to be 'fun'-for them or their siblings. Today has taken that pressure off this particular parent and for that I will be eternally grateful".