French artist Charles Pétillon will fill London’s Covent Garden with 100,000 giant white balloons for an installation opening on August 27. Known as Heartbeat, the work will fill the South Hall interior of the 19th century market building. The installation, which will look like a hovering cloud, is said to measure 177′ long and nearly 40′ wide.
The piece is Pétillon’s first public art installation and his first live artwork outside of France. Speaking about the installation, he said, “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.”
Alongside the installation, there will also be a popup gallery showcasing the artist’s other balloon-related artworks. As part of a series called Invasions, Pétillon has incongruously placed white balloons in an abandoned house, a basketball court, a forest, and a garage.
“The balloon invasions I create are metaphors.” Pétillon explains. “Their goal is to change the way in which we see the things we live alongside each day without really noticing them.”