This cubic metre of compressed tea is a pared-down structure using a commonplace material.

The sculpture is indebted to the American Minimalists whose work Weiwei became acquainted with in New York in the 1980s, artists such as Robert Morris, Carl Andre and especially Richard Serra. Ai has chosen the Pur Er blend of tea as it is drunk by ordinary Chinese citizens across the country. The tea leaves have been dried and compressed into a block form, a traditional means of preserving and transporting tea. A Ton of Tea has clear links with Bristol's Designated collections of Chinese glass and ceramics, but it also can be used to illuminate international trade linking to Bristol’s history as a mercantile port. This work was presented by the Art Fund through Art Fund International.


The artist.

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