An Ethereal Art Installation with a Life of its Own

100,000 balloons become a cloud with a heartbeat in London's Covent Garden

A great, billowing cloud of 100,000 white balloons has filled one of London’s most culturally significant buildings. Birthday fête in Buckingham Palace? Not so much. For his first public installation, French artist Charles Pétillon has brought his ethereal Invasions series to Covent Garden’s iconic Market Building, delighting locals and tourists alike.

Pulsing with a slow churn of light, the 178-foot-long piece, titled Heartbeat, weaves through the market’s bustling south hall, where visitors can be seen snapping photos of the popular, otherworldly work. This marks a departure for Pétillon, who typically stages his balloon sculptures in abandoned environments that he carefully photographs himself. Ultimately, the artist hopes that his dramatic installation will compel the public to think of the centuries-old market in a new way. (See a video of the artist explaining his work, here.)

Heartbeat will remain on display in Covent Garden, along with photos from the artist’s Invasions series, through September 27, 2015.

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