There is more to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s installation than meets the eye. Bend and pick up one of the “pebbles” and you can see that it resembles a sunflower seed encased in its striped husk. In fact, each one â€“ and there are 100 million of them, covering an area of 1,000 square metres â€“ is handmade from porcelain and has been individually handpainted.
Ai had the “seeds” made in the southern Chinese city of Jingdezhen.
Harnessing traditional craft skills, each seed was moulded, fired, and painted with three or four individual brush strokes, often by women taking the objects home to work on them. One thousand six hundred people were involved in the process.
Sunflower seeds, he said, had a particular significance in recent Chinese culture and history. During the cultural revolution, Mao Zedong was often likened to the sun and the people to sunflowers, gazing adoringly at his face. But sunflowers were also a humble but valued source of food in straitened times, a snack to be consumed with friends.
People power comes to the Turbine Hall, The Guardian