Ai Weiwei and co chart Chinoiserie in Couriers of Taste at Danson House, Bexleyheath

By Culture24 Reporter | 02 April 2013

Exhibition preview: Couriers of Taste, Danson House, Bexleyheath, until October 31 2013

A photo of a small, colourful sculpture of an Oriental figure
Laura White, The Esque Collection. PCMAG, SINOPTICON, Plymouth (2012)© Dom Moore
Five years after artist Eliza Gluckman curated Contemporary Chinoiserie – an exhibition of UK and Canadian artists exploring the return of the “mania” for Chinese artefacts first witnessed during the 17th century – the discourse between artists east and west is being revisited in the suitably expansive surroundings of a 180-acre Grade I-listed Georgian mansion in Kent.

It also marks a first exhibition reappearance for Ai Weiwei’s seeds, famously seen in the house-incarcerated Chinese provocateur’s Tate Modern display three years ago.

The re-emergence of Weiwei’s titbits – gathered via a social media campaign after numerous Tate visitors failed to resist the urge to wander off with some of the 100,000,000 seeds – is essentially a large-scale consummation of the themes of identity and global tension coursing through the upper floor, with the aesthetic a fashionable one in a House where the salon is already adorned with wallpaper inspired by China.

Each room has a theme, split into territories, contemporary Chinoiserie, consumerism, the trader and, in a reconstruction by Karen Tam complete with beds, pipes and “cheap replica perfume”, an opium den.

Tam has also made a range of fake ornaments, accompanied by alien furniture courtesy of Stephanie Douet, computer bits referencing hi-tech consumerism by Susan Stockwell and a site-specific sculpture by Gayle Chong Kwan, who, alongside Douet, came up with the original idea of putting a contemporary spin on Chinoiserie.

In a poetically-inspired final room, Esque Collection, by Laura White, fills the space with 26 kaleidoscopic sculptures.

  • Danson House, Danson Park, Bexleyheath. Open Sunday-Thursday 12pm-5pm. Admission £7/£5 ( free for under-16s, free re-admission for a year with Gift Aid). Follow @BexleyHeritage and use the hashtag #artdanson.

More pictures:

A photo of an outstretched hang carrying what looks like sunflower seeds
Ai Weiwei's sunflower seeds are back via a spot of social networking© S Castellana
A photo of an ornate curvy white vase with dark red oriental illustrations on it
Meekyoung Shin, Translation (2010)© Courtesy Haunch of Venison. Photo: Peter Mallet
A photo of a series of red flags with yellow stars on them hanging from a white wall
WESSIELING, National Dress (2011)© BHT / A Purkiss
A photo of a green, yellow and black collage made in the shape of the African continent
Susan Stockwell, Africa (2011)© Susan Stockwell 2011
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