This morning I reached into my raincoat pocket and came across a valuable, iconic, work of art. It was one of Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds. I was lucky enough to visit his sunflower seeds installation at Tate Modern when the public were allowed, indeed encouraged, to handle the seeds and throw them into the pile. A few weeks earlier the public had been allowed to walk on the seeds, but Tate Modern banned that in a gesture of solidarity with the authoritarian regime in China.
Since then Ai Weiwei has got into trouble with his masters in China for being a little too frank about the shortcomings of the system out there. As if to emphasise the point, a video was shown next to the sunflower exhibit showing peasant women painting millions of ceramic sunflower seeds for a pittance. Apparently their ruthless employer then went to the capitalist West and sold the seeds for a fortune. Because he’s been banned from travelling abroad, Ai Weiwei hasn’t been able to visit his latest artwork, a pavilion in Hyde Park, pictured here. The pavilion consists of a pond on top and a shelter/eating area underneath. The top is lovely, but the seating area below is depressing- shoddily made, dirty and dark. It’s perhaps a good thing that Ai Weiwei can’t see it, it might be too suggestive of confinement in a miserable place.
The idea of Slow Life is to take the principles of Slow Food, which are “good, clean and fair”, and extend them to life in general.
Here in the Lake District, the air is clean, the pace is slow and the atmosphere is calm. If we don’t grow food ourselves, we can buy it in friendly small shops, where you know the quality is going to be the best.
This blog is a celebration of the Slow Life, with forays into the world of design, music, the arts, gardens, and my particular weakness, Japan.