Covent Garden has been filled with 100,000 white balloons that take on the form of a giant low-hanging cloud to precede The London Design Festival (September 19-27). Called Heartbeat, the commissioned piece is by Charles Pétillon and marks the French artist’s very first public art installation.
“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,” explains the artist. “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.”
Found in the South Hall of the 19th century building, the installation is around 177 feet long and almost 30 feet wide. White light emanates from within, pulsating to mimic a heartbeat, which represents the city’s lively culture. “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.”
On display until September 27, Heartbeat is just one example of the estate’s cultural program, which has seen the likes of Jeff Koons, Bansky, Damien Hirst and Martha Fiennes. Several luxury brands, like Chanel and Dior, also have a home here.