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Song Dong

Waste Not

Installation of Song Dong Waste Not

A poignant meditation on family life and the artist’s childhood during the Cultural Revolution, Chinese artist Song Dong presented an installation comprising over 10,000 items collected by his mother.

Over five decades, Song Dong’s mother, Zhao Xiangyuan, collected items ranging from a section of the family home, from metal pots and plastic bowls to blankets, bottle caps, toothpaste tubes and toys.

The activity of saving and re-using things is in keeping with the Chinese adage wu jin qi yong – ‘waste not’ – a prerequisite for survival during periods of social and political turmoil.

The first major exhibition in the UK by the Chinese artist, Waste Not spoke of the strong bonds between family members and the power of objects to tell stories and shape our lives as visitors were invited to intimately relate to their extraordinary life story.

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England. Exhibition developed in partnership with Tokyo Gallery+BTAP.


‘The installation is infinitely photogenic, endlessly distracting. It comes with a gripping backstory‘
Time Out
‘A life told in stuff. Most of it useless and unlovely, and yet strangely affecting ‘
The Independent
‘Song's installation is a more involving and reflective experience‘
Evening Standard
‘This is a special collection. It has been gathered together with love‘
Financial Times