How did you amuse the children during Half Term?
Entertaining them is a job and a half but just how hard could it be?
A spot of culture shouldn’t go amiss.
Ah, we thought, let’s take them to see the Poppies
Or Rembrandt at the National Gallery
Constable at the V&A
Turner at Tate Britain
But here’s some of the huge crowd waiting at the Park and Ride in our town also heading in to see the Poppies alone – I asked most of them. This is us not getting on another bus. There are normally about 10-12 people waiting.
So, where’s all the art for kids? As it was also our anniversary, we decided not to spend most of it travelling on the motorway and tube.
Instead, we drove here – Blenheim Palace to see Ai Wei Wei’s exhibition.
His work is regarded with suspicion by the Chinese authorities. He lives and works in China but is barred from leaving there where his activities are closely monitored. As you will see, Ai uses traditional imagery and symbols as a springboard from which to discuss censorship and human rights. He doesn’t hold back from subverting well known Western landmarks and concepts too in his photographs.
We wondered what Ai Wei Wei’s teachers would have made of his work. I’ve imagined their words below in red italics.
Would they have admired his blue balls? (This is NOT my son – though his PE teacher would’ve been impressed).
If you look closely, you can see the reflection of Blenheim Palace in them
My own son was inspired to get out his sketch book.
“These were interesting. Not a nail in site. A shame all the children had to eat their lunch sitting on the floor as there weren’t any stools left.”
Here is Ai Wei Wei’s coffee table
And my son’s drawings of what would happen to your coffee ….
…. if you tried to put it down there
“Perhaps Wei Wei you didn’t have a proper spirit level. Just ask next time you need help”
“We liked your carpentry with the interlocking pentagons and hexagons. Your woodwork is much improved, though I would question the originality of your design. Are you sure you haven’t been in John Lewis’ lighting department? This school takes a dim view of plagiarism”
“… and your ‘original’ light fitting is a little on the large side, Wei Wei. As we keep telling you, LESS IS MORE – an excellent design slogan that chimes with our Communist beliefs”
“Your hanger work is original, although it was most unfortunate that the Headmaster’s jacket was found in a heap on the floor”
“… and we weren’t quite sure what the handcuffs were for”.
My son drew this for you.
“I see you’ve been in the fridge again without our permission. This is one of the reasons we knocked down your studio.”
“We’ll be WATCHING OUT for more of your work”
Leaving the exhibition behind …
We had a ride on a miniature train
Lunch in the marquee
Then ran across the endless gardens to the Butterfly House
Here’s the maternity wing
Mum or Dad – (couldn’t tell)
Most of my photos were blurred, as the jewelled-coloured butterflies kept fluttering off, so here’s a picture of their friends who’d got into the Butterfly House under false pretences.
After this, we went for a walk in the Secret Garden on what was one of the warmest ever days for this time of year.
Everyone had a brilliant time. So good in fact, that we came back two days later.
Here’s a little poem I wrote for the artist:
I hope to meet you Mr Ai,
Another year if not todaii,
Your work is clever, it’s really cool,
I’m glad that here we are no fool
About your intentions
And excellent inventions.
So if anyone says that you are wrong,
“What you do is silly, now run along”
Just tell them that in the UK
We’re right behind you all the Wei Wei
All original artwork pictured in this blog was done by Ai Wei Wei and my son who prefers to remain anonymous. Photos by me. This is not a sponsored post, we just love Blenheim Palace – a 5-10 min queue to get in by car, but NO CROWDS !