After His Darkest Hour, Ai Weiwei Moves Forward with a British Summer Tradition

Feb 8th, 2012 | By | Category: Featured London Article, London News

The Serpentine London Pavilion is one of the most intriguing modern British traditions. The structure is designed by an acclaimed artist each year and erected on The Serpentine Gallery lawn to promote cutting edge architecture and to host a variety of summer talks and events. From Daniel Libeskind’s metallic planes which majestically reflected the sky, to Olafur Eliasson’s spinning top style structure, the piece is always inventive and surprising and a stunning temporary feature of surrounding Kensington Gardens. This year promises to be a particularly momentous event as acclaimed Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has teamed up with Herzog De Meuron, the architects behind the Tate Modern building, to design the Pavilion this year.


It’s a welcome return to form after Weiwei has been held in custody in China for 81 days over the past year for his activist activities, in a round up of lawyers and perceived dissidents. Weiwei is still embroiled in the controversy, with alleged charges of failing to pay £2.5 million in back taxes to Chinese authorities. The artist previously courted controversy when his sunflower seeds installation in the Tate Modern, which featured thousands of hand made porcelain seeds, which visitors were allowed to walk over, released potentially harmful dust fragments; so it is a welcome update to see positive stories relating to Weiwei again.


The artist and architects have previously teamed up before to build a stunning bird’s nest inspired stadium for the Beijing Olympics and this collaboration marks continuity between the Beijing Games and London’s 2012 games. The project seems to be conscious of the environmental impact of building, requiring a 1.5 metre ditch to be dug for the foundations, from which rainwater will be collected and used in the structure. One can only speculate as to how the project will unfold or what fantastical form it will eventually take, but without a doubt this will be one not to miss.


If you want to experience Ai’s work in the flesh and sit, stand or lie under it as the artist intends people to use it, there are some fantastic hotels placed near Kensington Gardens, within walking distance of The Serpentine Gallery, the Montana Hotel London on the south side of the park offers good value tourist class accommodation and is also within walking distance of Harrods Department Store and London’s museum district. For a decadent treat, you can book into one of Park Lane’s exclusive establishments, if you want opulent traditional surroundings aim for Grosvenor House, or if you want to be immersed in surroundings as artistic as the Pavilion itself, The Metropolitan Hotel offers trendy minimalist chic. If those are a little out of your price range, the Kensington House Hotel is a few minutes walk from the Gardens and offers 19th century fittings with all modern conveniences.

More hotels near Hyde Park London


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