Ai Weiwei and The Royal Academy of Arts
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For the first major institutional survey of Ai Weiwei’s work in the UK, the Royal Academy of Arts installed his magnificent Tree sculptures in their public courtyard in Central London. Backers from all over the world came together to make this the largest single gathering of the sculptures to date. To create Tree, Ai repurposed fragments of trees that died naturally, collected from the mountains of Southern China. The fragments were assembled into eight complete trees in his studio, evoking the way in which modern China is itself an amalgamation of many different cultures. Visible from the street and free for everyone to experience, their soaring presence drew in and welcomed over 370,000 visitors to the exhibition.