Ai Weiwei artwork on refugees goes on display at Blenheim Palace in the UK

'Gilded Cage' sculpture by dissident Chinese artist portrays plight of refugees

Hannah Vitos of the Blenheim Art Foundation, poses for a photograph next to artist Ai Weiwei's Gilded Cage (2017) sculpture in the grounds of Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Britain, June 2, 2021.  REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
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A sculpture by dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei intended to provoke discussion about migration and refugees is on display at Britain's Blenheim Palace.

The seven-metre-tall Gilded Cage is meant to portray the physical and psychological constraints of life as a refugee.

Unveiled on Wednesday in the grounds of Winston Churchill's Oxfordshire birthplace, it is expected to stay on long-term view in the palace gardens.

The artwork previously stood at the gates of New York City’s Central Park after it was put on display there in 2017, its prison-like fences jarring intentionally with the beautiful surroundings.

Ai Weiwei, 63, moved to Britain from Germany in 2019 and has long highlighted the plight of refugees and migrants in his artwork.

In March he said he planned to stay in Portugal long term while keeping a base in the UK and a studio in Berlin.

WOODSTOCK, ENGLAND - JUNE 02: Hannah Vitos observes The Blenheim Art Foundation interactive sculpture by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei which will go on long-term display in the grounds of Blenheim Palace on June 02, 2021 in Woodstock, England. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)

The artist left China in 2015 after falling foul of a regime that arrested him at Beijing's airport in 2011 and held him for 81 days without explanation.

He previously had a hand in designing the famous Bird's Nest stadium that formed the centrepiece of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Gilded Cage is on display on the south lawn at Blenheim Palace, which previously hosted a display of Ai Weiwei's art in 2014.

The palace and its park, the centuries-old home of the Dukes of Marlborough, became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1987.

Winston Churchill, a descendant of the first duke, was born at the palace in 1874.

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