A visitor looks at Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads at Somerset House in London. Photograph: Andrew Winning/Reuters

Twelve 363kg (800lb) bronze animal heads have gone on display in the historic courtyard of Somerset House in London , the first contemporary sculpture to be featured there. The artist responsible, Ai Weiwei, was the missing element, his wellbeing and whereabouts still unknown after he was detained by Chinese authorities on 3 April.

A solemn opening ceremony included readings of his sayings. Gwyn Miles, director of the Somerset House Trust, called it “a bittersweet occasion”. “Along with many people around the world, we are hoping for his quick and safe release and that he should be allowed to continue his powerful work as an artist, able to speak freely without constraint,” she said.

“We believe the best support we can give Ai Weiwei is to show his stunning new work and to demonstrate the power of his vision.”


Mark Brown