Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has been inundated with Lego brick donation offers after the Danish toy maker refused a request for a bulk order of the plastic toys on political grounds.
On Friday, the artist said Lego refused his studioâ€™s request for an order to create an artwork about free speech to be shown at the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia for an Andy Warhol/Ai Weiwei exhibition in December.
In an Instagram post, the artist said Lego told him â€œthey cannot approve the use of Legos for political worksâ€ and he later called the decision â€œan act of censorship and discriminationâ€.
The refusal prompted an outcry on social media, with many offering their own Lego blocks to complete his installation, some using the hashtag #legosforweiwei.
Others used their Lego to make a political statement of their own.
The artist took to Instagram and Twitter again on Saturday, including a lengthy statement calling the decision â€œan act of censorship and discrimination.â€
A picture of a toilet filled with the toy blocks and signed â€œR. Mutt 2015â€ â€“ a reference to Marcel Duchampâ€™s 1917 â€œFountainâ€ â€“ accompanied the post.
The artist also posted a photo of Legoâ€™s 1961 patent for the â€œtoy building brickâ€ as well as a photo of the patent for â€œKiddicraftâ€, one of Legoâ€™s predecessors, prompting some to speculate the artist plans to make his own bricks.
He included the text of an email sent to the National Gallery of Victoriaâ€™s curatorial team on 12 September saying any work using the pieces could not â€œcontain any political, religious, racist, obscene or defaming statementsâ€.
But many social media users have been quick to point to examples of where Lego has been used in a political context, including in official events.
Other users played on the artistâ€™s own work, expressing their defiance by extending their middle fingers at Lego stores, or making the gesture out of Lego bricks. In the past, a series of photographs by the artist featured him giving the middle finger in front of the White House, Eiffel tower and in Tiananmen square.
In an email to the Guardian, Lego confirmed the order had been rejected on political grounds but said the principle â€œis not newâ€.
Lego spokesman Roar Rude TrangbÃ¦k said: â€œAny individual person can naturally purchase or get access to Lego bricks in other ways to create their Lego projects if they desire to do so, but as a company, we choose to refrain from engaging in these activities â€“ through for example bulk purchase.â€
â€œIn cases where we receive requests for donations or support for projects â€“ such as the possibility of purchasing Lego bricks in large quantities â€“ where we are made aware that there is a political context, we therefore kindly decline support.â€
Lego also clarified that Legoland parks were sold to British firm Merlin Entertainments 10 years ago. Ai Weiweiâ€™s post to Instagram on Friday implied Lego had refused in order to protect its commercial interests in the China.