16/02/2012 08:41 GMT | Updated 16/02/2012 10:41 GMT

Rubbish: Song Dong's 'Waste Not'

Song Dong's Waste Not is a fascinating exhibition offering an insight into Chinese Cultural Revolution and an intimate snapshot of his family life.

The socialist Chinese motto 'wu jin qi yong' - or 'waste not' - offers a blueprint for survival during social and political turmoil.

It also took over the artist's childhood, as his mother Zhao Xiang Yuan became an obsessive hoarder and refused to throw anything away for over five decades.

Over the years Dong's mother acquired over 10,000 objects in her small flat, including bottle tops, clothes, utensils and toys. Somehow in 2005 the artist persuaded his mother to part with her possessions, so he could put them on display in a worldwide art tour. She passed away in 2009.

As a result the collection, which is on display at the Barbican until 12 June, not only tells the story of Chinese history, but explores the frailty of human life and the role everyday objects play in our memories of our loved ones.