The latest UK project by Ai Weiwei since his famous “Sunflower Seeds” installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall is to open at Yorkshire Sculpture Park next month.
The exhibition, “Ai Weiwei in the Chapel,” will inaugurate the Park’s 18th century chapel following a £500,000 restoration.
Since his arrest and detainment in 2011, Ai Weiwei’s passport has been confiscated. As a result, he has been unable to visit Yorkshire and has selected the works based on plans and photographs of the chapel.
The centrepiece of the show will be a six-metre high tree, Iron Tree (2013), installed in the chapel courtyard, while three other sculptures will be shown inside.
Iron Tree is the largest sculpture in Ai Weiwei’s “tree” series, which he started working on in 2009.
The trees in the series are composite structures made from branches, roots and trunks from different trees, which are later stuck together to form a new tree. For Iron Tree, Ai Weiwei cast these pieces in iron.
Another artwork to be included, Fairytale-1001 Chairs (2007-14) is an extension of Ai Weiwei’s project for Documenta 12 in Kassel in 2007. During this time he brought 1,001 Chinese citizens to Kassel for 20 days, and represented each person with an antique chair.
Forty-five of these chairs have been selected for the exhibition.
Running alongside the exhibition the Park will also host readings of poems by the artists father, Ai Qing, who is regarded as one of the most important 20th century Chinese poets.
After being found guilty of “rightism,” Ai Qing and his family – including a baby Ai Weiwei - were sent to a labour camp before being forced into exile, in which they remained until the death of Mao Sedong.
“Ai Weiwei in the Chapel,” Yorkshire Sculpture Park, May 24 until November 2