Flowers have long been an integral part of Ai Weiwei’s work. He placed a fresh bouquet in the basket of a bicycle outside his studio each morning during the period in which he was unable to travel, his passport having been withheld by the Chinese government; and his #aiflowers Instagram project invited people everywhere to make flowers to remember the children lost in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Blossom, the title of his recent installation at the hospital on the infamous prison island of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay, filled sinks, lavatories and bathtubs once used by prisoners with porcelain flowers, in a symbolic offer of comfort to the incarcerated that also made ironic reference to China’s 1956 Hundred Flowers Campaign.
Universal symbols of both freedom and remembrance, these beautiful porcelain chrysanthemums, manufactured especially for the Royal Academy, reflect these attributes in the purity of their materials and the superb levels of craftsmanship involved in their manufacture. Each chrysanthemum is unique and made in one of four colours: white, pink, pale blue and mauve.