Monday, 11 March 2019
Ai Weiwei offers to buy 30 tonnes of buttons from closing Croydon factory

I think Chinese artist AiWeiwei must read the New English Review. Eight years ago I went to Tate Modern to see his Sunflower seed installation. I wrote this in February 2011.

I pondered the work given to the craftsmen and women in the ceramic industry of the city of Jingdezhen who made the millions of ceramic sunflower seeds. I though of the death of British manufacturing industry and wondered if someone would like to make a similar installation of British manufactured buttons (I like buttons because they are so bright and varied, and I use them in sewing and knitting). I made up a small prototype from the contents of my own buttonbox. 

Now the art press and the Independent newspaper report that 

The artist Ai Weiwei has offered to buy 30 tonnes worth of buttons from a Croydon-based factory that is closing down.

Weiwei, who has previously created artworks out of thousands of Lego bricks and shells, was responding to a message on Twitter when he made the offer. 

"I’ve been asked to share this call to save buttons from landfill," the initial tweet by Amy Clare Tasker ?reads. Brown & Co Buttons (a 104-year-old button factory in Croydon) needs to dispose of 30 TONNES of buttons as the factory is shutting down." More British industry dies. It need not happen, with political will to protect it. 

Weiwei responded by writing: "Can I have them all?"

Sarah Janalli, of Brown & Co Buttons, told The Independent that they have seen the post, but Weiwei had not yet been in contact.

I expect it is just a matter of great minds thinking alike. My button box now runs into three tins thanks to a recent inheritance; but they are mine! All mine!

Posted on 03/11/2019 4:50 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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