Poppies at Tower of London

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

Crowd at exhibition

Or Rembrandt at the National Gallery

Crowd at exhibition

Constable at the V&A

Crowd at exhibition

Turner at Tate Britain

Crowd at exhibition

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.

Oxford Tube

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.

Blenheim Palace

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).

Ai Wei Wei at Blenheim Palace

If you look closely, you can see the reflection of Blenheim Palace in them

Ai Wei Wei at Blenheim Palace

My own son was inspired to get out his sketch book. 

Child's drawing of Ai Wei Wei's blue balls

“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.”

Stools by Ai Wei Wei

Here is Ai Wei Wei’s coffee table

Ai Wei Wei - coffee table

And my son’s drawings of what would happen to your coffee ….

Blah blah blah

…. 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”

Ai Wei Wei Hexagon / pentagon

“… 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”

Ai Wei Wei chandelier at Blenheim Palac

“Your hanger work is original, although it was most unfortunate that the Headmaster’s jacket was found in a heap on the floor”

Ai Wei Wei Hanger art at Blenheim Palace

… and we weren’t quite sure what the handcuffs were for”. 

Handcuffs by Ai Wei Wei

My son drew this for you. 

Hangerman based on Ai Wei Wei's work

“I see you’ve been in the fridge again without our permission. This is one of the reasons we knocked down your studio.”

River crabs by Ai Wei Wei

“We’ll be WATCHING OUT for more of your work”

Marble CCTV Ai Wei Wei at Blenheim Palace

Leaving the exhibition behind …

We had a ride on a miniature train

Miniature train at Blenheim Palace

Lunch in the marquee 


Then ran across the endless gardens to the Butterfly House

Here’s the maternity wing

Chrysalis at Blenheim Palace

Mum or Dad – (couldn’t tell)

Sillouette of butterfly

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.

Goldfish at Blenheim

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.

Autumn maples at Blenheim Palace

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 !



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    1. Ha – yes he’s – perhaps he’ll work with the great man one day. He’s just won an art prize at school which more than I ever did. Thanks Rachel

  1. WOW what a half term yall had that all looks and sounds amazing. I wonder what I will do with my two when they start school and have time off. Great tips here. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

    1. Thanks Jenny – yes it was a lot of fun. There’s just so much going on in every town and city in this country isn’t there? When they start school you just appreciate even more the time you spend together even if it’s making a mess in the kitchen ! x #sharewithme

  2. So that’s what all the odd art was about! We went on Sunday to see the Christmas decorations, and needless to say I’d not checked the website about what was going on. Maybe if I had, I’d have known what to say to explain the weird art to N! He liked the wonky table but otherwise just wanted to go on the train.

    Did you see the ‘finger up’photography. Didn’t get that either – really should ask about exhibitions before going in!

    1. Think the train is fab – could happily jiggle along on it all afternoon ! Your little one is probably still a little young to ‘get’ some of the messages the artist was putting across. If he liked the wonky table, I’d say that’s a success. My son is older and wanted to take photos of EVERYTHING! Took a long time to get him out of there just trying to find what was Ai Wei Wei’s art and what was part of permanent Blenheim exhibition. He’s a political activist subverting authority and questioning his own oppressive regime – especially the authorities that have locked him up for no reason other than they don’t like his art as it questions mainstream values. For that reason think it was brave of Blenheim to put on the exhibition as they are nothing if not part of the establishment. The ‘fingers up’ photography was to them too of course! Sorry we missed the Xmas decorations – will have to go back to see those x

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