Ai Weiwei at Blenheim Palace
Taking full advantage of the beautiful autumnal weather we headed off on a trip to Blenheim Palace last weekend. The Oxfordshire stately home recently launched the Blenheim Art Foundation, a programme of contemporary art by leading international artists, and visitors to the house and grounds can currently enjoy its inaugural exhibition of work by Ai Weiwei. It is the Chinese artist's largest exhibition in the UK to date, with more than 50 works on display throughout the house and its grounds.
Here are some pictures from our visit if you'd like to take a look.
The grounds at Blenheim are enormous - the house sits in more than 2,000 acres of landscaped parkland and gardens. It was an incredibly sunny day, so we took some time to explore them before heading up to the house.
Yes, it's a rare picture of me - something you don't see very often here on Design Hunter!
The first Ai Weiwei pieces you notice are the two large blue pots standing alongside the neoclassical columns leading to the main entrance.
The eyes in the portico were commissioned by the wife of the 9th Duke, who apparently climbed to the top of the scaffold where the artist was working and showed him a scarf in the exact same shade of blue as her own eyes.
The magnificent glass crystal chandelier in the entry hall is actually an Ai Weiwei installation. It is enormous and had to be suspended from a specially installed gantry. It's difficult to gain a sense of the sheer scale of it from this image.
Ai Weiwei's work is 'hidden' in various parts of the house. As you wander around you encounter a pair of wooden handcuffs subversively tossed on the bed in the room Churchill was born in, under the gaze of a portrait of Marcel Duchamp fashioned from a wire coat hanger, and later find yourself in a drawing room filled with a sea of porcelain crabs.
We emerged from the house just as it was starting to get dark. The light was so incredibly beautiful - it was almost like a scene from a Canaletto painting.
The Ai Weiwei exhibition is at Blenheim Palace until 14 December 2014.