Students Staff

29 September 2015

Essex alumnus co-curates Royal Academy's major Ai Weiwei exhibition

Ai Weiwei

The Royal Academy's outstanding new show on influential Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, co-curated by Essex alumnus Dr Adrian Locke, is receiving incredible feedback from critics and the public.

The landmark exhibition in London reflects on Ai Weiwei's visionary, iconoclastic and increasingly political work.

Dr Locke, who is curator at the Royal Academy and Visiting Fellow in the School of Philosophy and Art History, has worked closely with the artist on the exhibition as part of the team developing the layout, promotional materials, catalogue and multimedia guide.

This will be the first significant British survey of Ai Weiwei's artistic output including major works spanning his career, as well as including new work by the artist.

The idea of creative freedom, especially the increasingly political aspect of much of his work, will be a prominent feature and underpin much of the exhibition.

Dr Locke told the BBC earlier this year: "Working with Ai Weiwei has presented us with new challenges but his ability to comprehend space, even without having experienced it first-hand, and the clarity of his vision for the use of that space in relation to his work has been revelatory."

Dr Locke has also written a regular blog on how the exhibition has taken shape.

In his blog after visiting Ai Weiwei's studio in Beijing, Dr Locke commented: "Being in Caochangdi feels like catching a glimpse of the real China hidden amongst the skyscrapers and bustling avenues of the modern city that have engulfed it.

"Spending time in this area, I am reminded that much of Ai Weiwei’s work serves to remind us of a past that has become overshadowed, where traditions have been lost, revealing the hidden cost in both human and cultural terms of modernisation, and the seemingly relentless pace of change that has driven China’s economy, making it a global giant over recent years. Our exhibition at the RA will explore the questions that Ai Weiwei raises about this loss."

Dr Locke completed a BA Latin American Studies, MA Latin American Art and PhD Art History at the University of Essex before going on to become Exhibitions Curator at the Royal Academy. He has overseen numerous high profile exhibitions. 


Read Dr Adrian Locke's blogs on preparing for the exhibition on the Royal Academy website:

Watch a video on our Vimeo channel with Dr Adrian Locke:

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