Dreamy cloud-like masses have taken over London’s Covent Garden Market. French artist Charles Pétillon filled the 19th century building with 100,000 giant white balloons as part of ‘Heartbeat,’ an installation that’s also Pétillon’s largest artwork to date. The pop-up installation incorporates gentle pulses of white light to symbolize a beating heart and the dynamism of the Central London district.
The glowing Heartbeat art installation stretches 54 meters across the ceiling of the building’s South Hall and measures 12 meters wide. The temporary artwork took a team of 25 people five nights to inflate the individually sized balloons, which collectively weigh 320 kilos. Heartbeat is Pétillon’s first balloon installation made viewable to the public. The massive artwork builds upon Pétillon’s previous work, called Invasions, which comprised a series of photographs depicting forgotten landscapes, like derelict houses and basketball courts, unexpectedly filled with hundreds of white balloons.
“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 want 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,” says Pétillon. “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.”
Heartbeat was launched ahead of the London Design Festival and was created as part of Covent Garden’s ongoing cultural program that invites international artists to transform the district into a temporary open-air art gallery. Pétillon’s month-long installation runs until September 27, 2015.
Images © Paul Grover