Tate closes access to Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds

It looks like I was one of the lucky few thousand to be allowed to play in the porcelain sunflower seeds – apparently the enthusiastic reaction from visitors had resulted in far more porcelain dust being released than they anticipated.

From what Tate are saying it seems the dust could pose a health risk if inhaled over a long period of time (I’m assuming this means that the concern is more for Tate’s workers than the visitors). This was something I had wondered during my visit since the gallery attendant keeping an eye on the work was sporting a dust mask. The air was hazy and every crunchy step as the children ran up and down let off a tiny puff of powder. Blowing my nose afterward was pretty surprising too.

The full statement reads:

Although porcelain is very robust, we have been advised that the interaction of visitors with the sculpture can cause dust which could be damaging to health following repeated inhalation over a long period of time. In consequence, Tate, in consultation with the artist, has decided not to allow members of the public to walk across the sculpture.

Today (Friday 15 October 2010) the installation will be viewable from the Turbine Hall bridge.