Ai Weiwei Artists Buttons - Single


Edition no.

Ai Weiwei
Gold Button (PLA), 2023
Hallmarked solid sterling silver with 24ct gold plating
Button diameter 25mm
In an edition of 250

The button(s) have been hand sewn onto an A5 cards. Each card is numbered, dated and signed by the artist and presented in a bespoke box designed by A Practice for Everyday Life.

Ai Weiwei has recreated the mass-produced buttons found on the uniforms of China’s People’s Liberation Army in gold-plated sterling silver. This new work corresponds with other works by the artist in which everyday objects are re-made in precious materials, questioning their meaning, value and status. Ai Weiwei’s gold buttons are manufactured by Firmin & Sons Ltd – a company established in 1655 and the official supplier of buttons to the British royal family since the reign of George II.

Buttons hold great personal significance for Ai Weiwei. During his secret detention in Beijing in 2011, he was under constant surveillance by two guards from the People’s Liberation Army who wore golden buttons on their uniforms. Ai recalls: ‘I was instructed not to look at the guards’ faces, so I focused on their buttons, which have been revered from my birth until today as symbols of the unassailable dignity of the army and the honour of the country.’

Known for both his art and activism, Ai Weiwei uses a range of mediums, including architecture, installation, documentary, writing and social media, to examine contemporary society and geopolitics.


About the Artists Buttons project

Ten leading artists, Ai Weiwei, Jonathan Anderson, Rana Begum, Edmund de Waal, Antony Gormley, Callum Innes, Jennifer Lee, Cornelia Parker, Vicken Parsons & Caroline Walker, have been creating limited edition sets of buttons in support of Kettle’s Yard.

The project draws inspiration from the exhibition, ‘Lucie Rie: The Adventure of Pottery’, recently at Kettle’s Yard and from 14 July 2023 – 7 January 2024 at the Holburne Museum in Bath. In 1938, Lucie Rie fled her home in Vienna for London to escape the Nazi persecution of Jewish people. During the war, unable to get a licence to make pots, Rie turned to making ceramic buttons for the fashion industry, experimenting on a miniature scale with new forms and coloured glazes.

Read more about the Artist Buttons project on the Kettle’s Yard blog

Please note purchases of Artists Buttons per customer must not exceed £8,500. Any order exceeding £8,500 will not be processed. 

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