From Beijing to London

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I have just been to see the Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei's exhibition at the Royal Academy, London. I loved this show and the way that Ai Weiwei plays with materials, creating incredibly, beautiful objects while making political statements.

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'Straight' is a very moving piece and it is based on the Sichuan earthquake that caused the deaths of 90,000 people in 2008. Ai Weiwei found out that the schools had collapsed and this had caused the deaths of thousands of children because they had been built with shoddy materials. He collected 200 tonnes of the steel bars that the schools had been constructed from and which had become twisted and bent after the catastrophe. He then straightened them so that they were back to their original state and exhibited them piled up on top of each other, creating an incredible piece of art that resembles a kind of barren, metallic landscape that seems to be calling out for what is lost.


  • an exhibition (noun)                                    

A display of art that is open to the public

  • incredibly (adj.)                                            


  • moving  (adj.)                                                


  • to be based on (phr. verb)                          

To be about

  • an earthquake (noun)                                  

A sudden, violent shaking of the ground

  • to collapse (verb)                                      

To fall down

  • shoddy (adj.)                                                

A very low standard

  • tonnes (noun)                                              

A unit for measuring weight (1000 kg)

  • steel (noun)                                                  

A type of metal that's silver in colour

  • twisted (adj.)                                                

Forced out of its natural shape

  • bent (adj.)                                                      


  • catastrophe (noun)                                        

An event that causes people to suffer and/or damage

  • to straighten (verb)                                      

To make something straight

  • to pile up (phrasal verb)                                

To be on top of each other

  • resemble (verb)                                            

To be similar to

  • barren (adj.)                                                    

A place that is empty and where nothing can grow

  • to call out for (phr. verb)                               

To call loudly for something