Ai Weiwei Photo: REX FEATURES

The artist and dissident was instrumental in one of his country’s greatest modern triumphs when he helped design the Beijing National Stadium which housed the dazzling spectacle of the 2008 Olympics.

But his outspoken criticism of the authoritarian regime in China has put him on a collision course with the government. He has recently distanced himself from the Beijing National Stadium project, which he called a “pretend smile” against the sinister backdrop of the country’s human rights record.

he 53-year-old was placed under house arrest at the weekend to stop him attending a gathering of thousands of supporters at his Shanghai studio to protest against its impending demolition by the authorities.


Heidi Blake