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From the mountains of rural China to the heart of London, join the RA in creating an incredible piece of public art with Ai Weiwei.
From the mountains of rural China to the heart of London, join the RA in creating an incredible piece of public art with Ai Weiwei.
From the mountains of rural China to the heart of London, join the RA in creating an incredible piece of public art with Ai Weiwei.
1,319 backers pledged £123,577 to help bring this project to life.

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Bring Ai Weiwei's Tree sculptures to London's Royal Academy

£123,577

1,319

“An act is worth a million thoughts.” Ai Weiwei

The Royal Academy of Arts wants to bring a significant sculpture by visionary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei to the RA Courtyard in the heart of London from September to December 2015. Be a part of a unique opportunity to support the work of Ai Weiwei and collaborate with Britain’s greatest independent artist-run organisation. Join the global conversation about art and activism; transcend national boundaries as people all over the world help us make this happen.

Who are we?

The Royal Academy of Arts (RA) brings major exhibitions to Piccadilly, in the heart of London. A unique, artist-run organisation which was founded by a mandate from King George in 1768, the RA is an independent charity which provides a clear strong voice for art and artists, and which runs the only free three-year postgraduate art school in the UK.

What do we want to do?

We want to enable a huge site-specific installation in the RA’s outdoor courtyard off Piccadilly, which will be free to enjoy by all visitors. The eight enormous Tree sculptures are created by one of China’s most visionary and provocative artists, Ai Weiwei. Ai’s work is brave, provocative and visionary, and gives voice not only to his own beliefs, but also those who have no voice.

What will your contribution support?

We need to raise £100,000 to enable us to bring this magnificent work to the Annenberg Courtyard, where it can be enjoyed by all visitors for free. We want you to be a part of a collaborative approach to making this happen, and a unique opportunity to build a connection to the work of Ai Weiwei and the Royal Academy of Arts. We will involve you in the story every step of the way, and acknowledge your generous support in the prestigious RA galleries. Ai Weiwei’s work transcends global boundaries and so will this project: even if you are not able to visit the work in London we will connect you with the exhibition virtually.

The Royal Academy's Courtyard
The Royal Academy's Courtyard

About our Ai Weiwei exhibition

This free outdoor installation will be on display simultaneously with an exhibition of Ai Weiwei’s work in the RA’s Main Galleries. From September to December 2015 the RA is bringing the first major institutional survey of Ai’s work to Britain, celebrating over two decades of his extraordinary career. The exhibition has been curated in collaboration with Ai Weiwei from his studio in Beijing, as he is not permitted to leave China, proving that geographical boundaries do not necessarily have to limit something of such huge artistic importance. The RA will present some of his most important works from the time he returned to China from the US in 1993 right up to the present day, as well as new works created specifically for our galleries.

About Ai Weiwei

 Ai Weiwei is one of China’s most influential artists and a major cultural phenomenon. His work is brave, provocative and visionary, and gives voice not only to his own beliefs, but also those who have no voice. Particularly powerful are his pieces which address the Chinese government’s response to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Ai became widely known in Britain after his sunflower seeds installation at Tate Modern in 2010, while globally is renowned for his activism, and works which embody political statements about creative freedom, censorship and human rights. He often re-appropriates objects to give them new cultural meaning, such as painting precious 2000-year-old vases to resemble cheap, modern-day containers, examining notions of cultural heritage, authenticity and the value of art. 

About the Tree project 

Our Kickstarter campaign will enable a huge, site-specific work in the outdoor courtyard in front of the gallery. Eight enormous trees created by Ai Weiwei – each around seven metres tall, clustered around a marble couch – will create an environment in the centre of London for the public to explore. Ai Weiwei began his Tree series in 2009, and the RA’s eight-part work will be the largest to date. Ai purchases parts of dead trees, collected on the mountains of southern China, and brings them to his studio in Beijing where skilled carpenters assemble them into ‘complete’ trees. These impressive artificial constructions have been interpreted as a commentary on the Chinese nation, in which geographically and culturally diverse peoples have been brought together to form ‘One China’.

Why Kickstarter?

Putting an exhibition together of this magnitude is a hugely expensive enterprise and the RA always has to raise funds in order to realise monumental exhibitions of this scale. Kickstarter particularly embodies the spirit of individual collaboration on a global scale that is central to Ai Weiwei’s art and activism. We want as many people as possible to have the opportunity to be personally and directly involved with Ai Weiwei’s London exhibition through support of the Tree series that represents the unity of people across time and national boundaries.

Available Rewards

Pledge today and you can enjoy one of many rewards.

Artist's impression of how you will be credited at the Royal Academy
Artist's impression of how you will be credited at the Royal Academy

Project image: Ai Weiwei, Tree, 2009-10, 2015.  Installation view, neugerriemschneider, Berlin 2011. Tree sections and steel, dimensions variable. Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio. Photo courtesy neugerriemschneider, Berlin. Photography: Jens Ziehe © Ai Weiwei.

With thanks to Harry Pearce at Pentagram for the beautiful images taken in Ai Weiwei's Beijing studio, and Red Photographic for helping us capture people with their favourite 'Ai Weiwei-isms'.

Risks and challenges

If we fail to meet the target we will be short of funds but the installation will go ahead. We are confident that there are enough people out there who share our desire to bring Ai Weiwei’s Tree series to London to enable us to be successful.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £5 or more About $8

    Your name on our website, plus a wink from Ai Weiwei's cat, Garfield.

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    92 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £10 or more About $16

    Six beautiful images of Ai Weiwei's Beijing studio including images of works in progress and Ai himself, available to download. Plus your name on our website.

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    109 backers
    £
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  3. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £15 or more About $23

    Limited edition print, exclusive for £15 Kickstarter supporters, of a specially-commissioned photograph of Ai Weiwei in his Beijing studio. Plus your name on our website.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 100 backers
    £
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £20 or more About $31

    Special video tour of the Ai Weiwei exhibition led by curator Adrian Locke, exclusive for Kickstarter supporters and sent privately to you. Plus your name on our website.

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    36 backers
    £
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    Pledge £25 or more About $39

    Limited edition print, exclusive for £25 Kickstarter supporters, of a specially-commissioned photograph of Tree in Ai Weiwei’s Beijing studio. Plus your name on our website and a virtual tour of the exhibition.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 150 backers
    £
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £25 or more About $39

    Limited edition print, exclusive for £25 Kickstarter supporters, of a specially-commissioned photograph of work in progress in Ai Weiwei’s Beijing studio. Plus your name on our website and a virtual tour of the exhibition.

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    Limited 60 backers
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    Pledge £30 or more About $47

    Exclusive Ai Weiwei tote bag featuring Ai Weiwei's tree and the message 'I brought Ai Weiwei's TREE to London'. We will proudly display your name on the Royal Academy stairway wall in Burlington House. Plus your name on our website and a virtual tour of the exhibition.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 250 backers
    £
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £40 or more About $62

    PEDAL SUPPORTER. You will receive a limited edition black bicycle bell, exclusive to Kickstarter Pedal Supporters, printed with our favourite Ai Weiwei-ism. We will proudly display your name on the Royal Academy stairway wall in Burlington House. Plus your name on our website and a virtual tour of the exhibition.

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    Limited 145 backers
    £
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    Pledge £50 or more About $78

    FLOWER SUPPORTER. We will press one flower each day of the Ai Weiwei London exhibition, creating 86 numbered limited edition flowers. (Each day a bunch of flowers will be placed in a bicycle basket outside the Royal Academy on Piccadilly, as occurs daily outside Ai's Beijing studio to protest his lack of freedom to travel.) We will proudly display your name on the Royal Academy stairway wall in Burlington House. Plus your name on our website and a virtual tour of the exhibition.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 86 backers
    £
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge £50 or more About $78

    Exclusive Ai Weiwei teatowel featuring flowers for freedom and the message 'I brought Ai Weiwei's TREE to London'. We will proudly display your name on the Royal Academy stairway wall in Burlington House. Plus your name on our website and a virtual tour of the exhibition.

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    Limited 17 backers
    £
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    Pledge £75 or more About $116

    LANTERN SUPPORTER. You could have one of 30 beautiful lanterns, mirroring those positioned by the surveillance cameras outside Ai Weiwei's studio, to be displayed at the RA during the exhibition. We will proudly display your name on the Royal Academy stairway wall in Burlington House. Plus your name on our website and a virtual tour of the exhibition.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 30 backers
    £
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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge £80 or more About $124

    Limited edition print on high quality stock, exclusive for £80 Kickstarter supporters, of a specially-commissioned photograph of Tree in the RA's courtyard, which will be shot and signed by Pentagram's Harry Pearce. We will proudly display your name on the Royal Academy stairway wall in Burlington House. Plus your name on our website and a virtual tour of the exhibition.

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    Limited 35 backers
    £
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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge £100 or more About $155

    RA FRIEND FOR A DAY. Enjoy a one-day experience as a Friend of the Royal Academy. Your Friends experience will include a one-day pass +1 to attend a Friends Preview day of the Ai Weiwei exhibition on either 16, 17 or 18 September 2015, access to the Keeper's House bar and garden, and much more. We will proudly display your name on the Royal Academy stairway wall in Burlington House. Plus your name on our website and a virtual tour of the exhibition. (NB you have to be available in London on the dates above.)

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    Limited 28 backers
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    Pledge £150 or more About $233

    OAK SUPPORTER. Limited edition print of a specially commissioned photograph of Ai Weiwei taking a selfie, signed by the man himself. We will proudly display your name on the Royal Academy stairway wall in Burlington House. Plus your name on our website and a virtual tour of the exhibition.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 25 backers
    £
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  15. Select this reward

    Pledge £200 or more About $310

    Access to the special Kickstarter Supporter Party at the Royal Academy during the week of London's Frieze art fair. Reward includes party entry for you and a guest, on the evening of 13 October (7pm – 9pm). Enjoy after-hours access to the exhibition and see your name proudly displayed on the Burlington House stairway on the way into the exhibition. Plus exclusive Kickstarter Ai Weiwei Tree tote bag and online accreditation.
    (Must be available in London for reward redemption.)

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    Limited 9 backers
    £
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    Pledge £250 or more About $388

    STEEL SUPPORTERS. Limited opportunity to attend the RA's London Ai Weiwei exhibition in advance of public opening at an exclusive early morning event on 18 September 2015, hosted by the exhibition curator. We will proudly display your name on the Royal Academy stairway wall in Burlington House. Plus your name on our website and a virtual tour of the exhibition.
    (Must be available in London for reward redemption.)

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    Limited 21 backers
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  17. Select this reward

    Pledge £500 or more About $775

    ROOFTOP SUPPORTER. See Ai Weiwei's Tree from the unique vantage point of the Royal Academy’s rooftop on this guided roof walk, with the added bonus of stunning views across central London. To take place on a Friday morning during the Ai Weiwei exhibition on a mutually agreed date. Plus private view of the Ai Weiwei exhibition before the exhibition opens to the public. Plus proud display of your name on the Burlington House stairway outside the Ai Weiwei exhibition. Plus online accreditation.

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    Limited 2 backers
    £
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  18. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,500 or more About $2,325

    PORCELAIN SUPPORTERS. Lunch with the RA's Chief Secretary Charles Saumarez Smith and Ai Weiwei exhibition curator Adrian Locke at the Keeper's House in London on a mutually agreed date. We will proudly display your name on the Royal Academy stairway wall in Burlington House. Plus your name on our website and a virtual tour of the exhibition.
    (Must be available in London for reward redemption.)

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    Limited 4 backers
    £
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  19. Select this reward

    Pledge £2,000 or more About $3,100

    MARBLE SUPPORTERS. Invitation for 2 people to the Red Carpet Ai Weiwei opening party on 15 September 2015 (6.30pm-9pm) at the Royal Academy of Arts. We will proudly display your name on the Royal Academy stairway wall in Burlington House. Plus your name on our website and a virtual tour of the exhibition.
    (Must be available in London for reward redemption.)

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    Limited 2 backers
    £
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    Pledge £2,500 or more About $3,876

    DIAMOND SUPPORTERS. Exclusive Private View of the RA's London Ai Weiwei exhibition including a tour from exhibition curator Adrian Locke for you and up to 10 of your friends on the morning of 17 November or 9 December 2015 between 8am and 10am. We will proudly display your name on the Royal Academy stairway wall in Burlington House. Plus your name on our website and a virtual tour of the exhibition.
    (Must be available in London for reward redemption.)

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    Reward no longer available 2 backers
    £
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  21. Select this reward

    Pledge £5,000 or more About $7,751

    EXHIBITION SUPPORTER. Your name distinctly displayed at the Ai Weiwei exhibition entrance as 'Exhibition Supporter'. Plus your name on our website and a virtual tour of the exhibition.

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    Limited 7 backers
    £
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  22. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £5,000 or more About $7,751

    PLATINUM SUPPORTER. Invitation for you and up to 4 guests (5 places) to the Red Carpet Ai Weiwei opening party on 15 September (6.30-9pm) at the Royal Academy of Arts. Plus proud display of your name on the Burlington House stairway outside the Ai Weiwei exhibition.
    (Must be available in London for reward redemption.)

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    Reward no longer available 2 backers
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Funding period

- (37 days)