Detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei remembered with new Tate Modern display

Ten tonnes of Chinese dissident's porcelain sunflower seeds assembled in conical sculpture

The Tate Modern has installed 10 tonnes of Ai Weiwei's hand-crafted porcelain sunflower seeds in one of its surrealism galleries as concern continues over the artist's disappearance 75 days ago.

The display, loaned from the artist, comprises just under a 10th of the seeds which covered much of the London gallery's Turbine Hall from October 2010 to May this year. Visitors will be able to walk around the seeds, which have been carefully sculpted into a five-metre wide conical form.

The display on the third floor of Tate Modern renews the focus on Ai's disappearance and detention without charge by the Chinese authorities.

The gallery's new director, Chris Dercon, said: "Tate remains deeply concerned about Ai Weiwei's detention. Recent events have made Sunflower Seeds an ever-more poignant commentary on the importance of the individual in society. At a time when Ai cannot speak freely for himself, it is important that his message continues to be heard through his art."

Ai's work can be seen across London at the moment. The gallery which represents him, the Lisson, is holding an exhibition of his work while Somerset House is displaying a piece called Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, Ai's recreation of the 12 bronze heads which once looked down at the fountain of Yuanming Yuan, an imperial retreat in Beijing. On Tuesday they silently watched aftershow partygoers following the first night of Shrek the Musical.

Ai has not been seen since he was detained on 3 April when he was about to board a Hong Kong-bound plane in Beijing. China said he was being held for unspecified "economic crimes" but he has not been allowed access to any lawyer and has only seen briefly his wife.

Last month, she was reported as saying he was in good physical health.

There is a degree of helplessness in the west, aside from trying to keep his plight in the public domain.

The artist Anish Kapoor this week said he would not take part in next year's show being organised by the British Council at Beijing's National Museum of China. The Royal Academy has voted Ai an honorary academician and museums around the world have launched an online petition calling for his release.


Mark Brown, arts correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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