London Life

Charles Pétillon’s ‘Heartbeat’ featuring 100,000 balloons at Covent Garden, London

Charles Pétillon's Heartbeat featuring 100,000 balloons at Covent Garden, London 1

Covent Garden put up it’s latest exhibition this week: Heartbeat by French artist Charles Pétillon  featuring 100,000 giant white balloons that fill the grand interior of the 19th Century Market Building. It’s Pétillon’s first live work outside of France, and also his fist public art installation.

Charles Pétillon's Heartbeat featuring 100,000 balloons at Covent Garden, London 2

Charles Pétillon's Heartbeat featuring 100,000 balloons at Covent Garden, London 3

Charles Pétillon's Heartbeat featuring 100,000 balloons at Covent Garden, London 4

Charles Pétillon's Heartbeat featuring 100,000 balloons at Covent Garden, London 5

Charles Pétillon's Heartbeat featuring 100,000 balloons at Covent Garden, London 6

Charles Pétillon's Heartbeat featuring 100,000 balloons at Covent Garden, London 7

Pétillon is best known for Invasions, a series of sculptures which challenge perceptions of every day scenes by filling them with hundreds of white balloons – it’s no wonder where the inspiration for Heartbeat came from!

The balloons cover 54 meters in length and 12 meters in width along the ceiling of the Sough Hall of the Grade II listed Market Building. True to it’s name, Heartbeat incorporates gently pulsating white light to symbolise the beating of a heart, energy and dynamism of the district. This is credited as Pétillon’s most ambitious project to date.

I popped by to check out the installation on Friday, and even before I could see the art I could smell the latex – which I wasn’t expecting, but was actually pretty silly for me to not consider! Covent Garden is a special area of London for me (it’s one of the first places I visited when I first came to London nearly a decade ago as a tourist!), and I loved how Heartbeat challenged me to look at the space in a new, interesting way.

According to Pétillon:“The balloon invasions I create are metaphors. Their goal is to change the way in which we see the things we live alongside each day without really noticing them. With Heartbeat I wanted to represent the Market Building as the beating heart of this area – connecting its past with the present day to allow visitors to re-examine its role at the heart of London’s life.

Each balloon has its own dimensions and yet is part of a giant but fragile composition that creates a floating cloud above the energy of the market below. This fragility is represented by contrasting materials and also the whiteness of the balloons that move and pulse appearing as alive and vibrant as the area itself.”

The balloons will be up in until 27th September, and if you get the opportunity I recommend popping by to take a look!

Read more on the Covent Garden website

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