Ocean of Flowers (2012) was presented in the Mould Loft on upper level of Cockatoo Island, for the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012).

Over the past few years, Li Hongbo has been gluing piles of paper together. Ocean of Flowers begins with the honeycomb technique carved into forms resembling weapons that he twirls into new ‘flower shapes’. With the global proliferation of weapons – the utopian ideals of the 1950s in China, or the 1970s elsewhere, seem so long ago and forgotten – we now sit on powder kegs everywhere. The international making and trading of guns is a colossal business, yet superpowers argue that having big guns is a deterrent to proliferation. We have only created more sophisticated killing machines that take lives as easily, and as effortlessly, as picking flowers.

Artist Statement
Desire causes damage, damage results in hatred, hatred accumulates conflicts, conflict leads to war. Weapons are for war, not merely defend yourself but also to annihilate others. However all people are born of lust and destroyed by the same thing. This is the formation of blood and tears from thousands of years of human history and suffering, but also as the result. The ‘flower’ in my work looks so bright and grandstanding, whether people can really comprehend the damage hidden behind it. When the muzzle points to any creature, no matter for what purpose, it represents the end of life or a painful struggle. We are all losers when the fall of lives reveal in our sight. Where there is a life, strong or weak, long or short, large or small, coarse or fine, near or far, visible or invisible, born or to be born, all should be lived with infinite kindness and a heart to love. Do not do harm to others because of your own selfishness. The designer of AK47 once said that the purpose of manufacturing weapons is always for self-defence, not to kill. If this principle can be widely accepted, the world will not need weapons.


  • Title: Ocean of Flowers
  • Creator: Hongbo LI
  • Creator Lifespan: 1974
  • Creator Nationality: Chinese
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Birth Place: Jilin
  • Date: 2012
  • Location Created: Sydney, Australia
  • Provenance: Courtesy the artist Project team: Kao Yunqi, Shi Ningfang and Duan Chaoping. This project is supported by White Rabbit Gallery through its artist residency program
  • Type: Work on Paper
  • Rights: http://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/legal-privacy/
  • External Link: Biennale of Sydney
  • Medium: paper
  • Edition: 2012: 18th Biennale of Sydney: all our relations

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