Covent Garden Market has been a public fair for local merchants since 1845. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays artisans would gather here to sell their goods. Through the test of time it has remained a center filled with unique shopping experiences for locals and visitors alike. The sheer history and importance of Covent Garden Market has made it a sought after location for artists to exhibit their work.
French artist Charles Pétillon is one of the lucky few who have gotten to exhibit their art at the famed market. With such a grand opportunity, Pétillon created an even grander installation. The artist’s piece consists of 100,000 white balloons floating inside the covered market. The construction of the 54 meter-long installation took an impressive five days and 25 workers to complete. Named “heartbeat” Pétillon’s goal was 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 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 cloud-like artwork has a soft pulsating white light at it’s core, embodying the beating of a heart. This heart is the dynamic energy of the Covent Garden district. Much of Pétillon’s art involves the use of balloons. In a word with Design Boom he noted, “The balloon invasions I create are metaphors.” The artist is most famous for his series of sculptures called ‘Invasions,’ which contest perceptions of commonplace scenes with the use of his signature white balloons.
Now on display for thousands of daily visitors to see, Pétillon’s balloons pose as a major attraction for art aficionados in the city. The installation itself is part of a ongoing cultural program put on by Covent Garden Market to transform the area into a continuously changing art exhibit. The French artist’s “heartbeat” will remain until September 27th, when the balloons will all float away.