French artist Charles Pétillon has unveiled his first public art installation – and his first ever live work outside of France – in Covent Garden filling the grand interior of the 19th Century Market Building with 100,000 giant white balloons.
The complex yet fragile composition represents Charles’ largest and most ambitious project to date and runs until 27th September.
Charles is best known for Invasions, a series of arresting sculptures which challenge perceptions of everyday scenes by filling the likes of derelict houses, basketball courts and even cars with hundreds of white balloons.
Uniting the world of art with world-class architecture, the installation has launched ahead of the London Design Festival and has been inspired by Covent Garden’s heritage as London’s first public square and the West End’s reputation as the beating heart of the city.
Charles said: “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".
“Each balloon - he continues - 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.”
Beverley Churchill, Creative Director of Capco Covent Garden, said:
“Culture today is live and all around us and art has been freed from inside museums for everyone to enjoy. Art and performance are in Covent Garden’s DNA and our annual commissions honour that tradition, I believe our visitors will love experiencing and exploring Heartbeat.”
Over the past few years Covent Garden has been transformed into a vibrant world-class destination, welcoming over 40 million customer visits a year. The estate’s energy and global appeal has attracted a strong tenant line up of retailers and restaurants. Luxury brands including Burberry, Chanel, and Dior, sit alongside some of the capital’s most popular restaurants including LIMA Floral, Ladurée and Balthazar.