CANBERRA, Australia (AP) _ More than 50 nude people and a small flock of sheep braved winter weather Friday to become part of an exhibition of Chinese modern art at Australia's National Gallery.

Zhang Huan's work involving the unclad crowd was titled ``My Australia 1.'' The Australian debut of the performance art was part of ``Inside Out: New Chinese Arts,'' which runs through August.

Chinese diplomats tried to persuade Australia to cancel the exhibit, fearing it would damage China's image, according to a report Friday in The Australian newspaper.

China's ambassador, Wenzhong Zhou, was not offended by the nudity. He was upset by a work from artist Zhang Ziaogang entitled ``Bloodline: Family Portrait,'' depicting a couple and child wearing badges showing the late communist leader Mao Tse-tung and linked together by lines of blood, the newspaper said.

Zhang Huan opened the exhibit by stripping bare and climbing a tree in the gallery's sculpture garden.

Then 50 volunteers from around Canberra also braved 55 degree temperatures to stand nude as part of his new age work.

Zhang doused his human sculptures in mock blood, before a flock of sheep was driven into the garden. He then picked up a lamb and took it on a tour of the exhibition inside the gallery.

The exhibition is Australia's first major showing of contemporary Chinese art which explores dynamic changes in Chinese culture in the 20th century.