Ai Weiwei at Blenheim Palace

It's been a while since I last updated my blog and so much has been going on, so I am going to try and make up for it now.
Back in October my son and I visited the I Weiwei exhibition at Blenheim Palace, we love Blenheim and take every opportunity we can to spend some time there. Hugh particularly likes the armour in the entrance hall and never seems to tire of going room to room looking at all the tiny details, so when I found out about it I was keen to take him.
What I loved about the exhibition was the staging, the items had been placed around the Palace, nestling within the the rooms looking like they were meant to be there. You could touch some of the pieces, and in one case actually walk on it, a wool carpet inspired by a piece of dirt road in the countryside.

I Weiwei floral plates Blenheim Palace
I Weiwei bubbles Blenheim Palace
I Weiwei bubble Blenhiem Palace reflection

In the salon the 12 gilded Chinese zodiac heads looked magnificent against the set table and chairs, we talked about which ones we liked best and studied their expressions, later we worked out I was a dog and Hugh was a rat!
What makes this exhibition even more remarkable is that the whole project was conceived remotely using plans of the palace as I Weiwei has been unable to leave China since his passport was confiscated. It works so well in the Palace and surrounding grounds, and if you have not seen it yet you still have a chance as it has been extended to the end of April 2015.  If you have children then it is a great thing to take them to see, we treated it as a treasure hunt seeking out the pieces, using our printed guide. It is also very diverse so there is lots to talk about and explain. The crabs and zodiac heads have an immediate interest for children but I was quite surprised at  Hugh's favourite pieces,  the gas mask, and the oil spills in the secret garden ... Interesting I thought, just shows you shouldn't underestimate your children.

I Weiwei gas mask Blenhiem Palace

The first piece you see on entering is a massive oversized chandelier overwhelming the great hall, it looked so at home that at first I didn't realise it was part of the exhibition and pondered whether it had always been there and I had just not noticed before!
I have a particular liking for the ceramic pieces and have a real appreciation of the craftsmanship involved.  As a buyer I worked extensively with ceramics factories around the world, including China. I found myself explaining to Hugh about glazes, moulds and hand painting. The floral plates particularly remind me of a factory I worked with in China, I never tired of watching the artistry of the workers and the amazing detail in hand painting they achieved.
The blue bubbles in the south park really caught our interest, I marvelled at the consistency of the glaze, and it was a sunny day so we had fun making reflections in bubbles and photographing them.

I Weiwei Bubbles Blenhiem Palace Reflection
I Weiwei Chinese Zodiac gold heads
I Weiwei crabs at Blenhiem Palace