A guide who worked for the museum met up with us in the foyer. He said his talk would be aimed at people who were enthusiastic about contemporary art but were not experts. This was about right for the group, as most of us had some knowledge of Ai Wei Wei, his better known works (such as the Olympic “Birds Nest” Stadium) and his run ins with the Chinese authorities. I had come across his work once before, in the grandiose setting of Blenheim Palace of all places, so it was great to see it in the setting of a purpose built gallery.
The Design Museum had allocated one huge room to the exhibition. This was impressive, as you could see works of several different kinds by just turning around and looking. The guide explained how similar themes ran through the huge ceramic installations on the floor, the sculptures, the wall paintings and the photographs. We learned about Ai Wei Wei’s life, his artistic practice and his political activism.