Piece Of The Week: Heartbeat // Charles Petillon


This week’s Piece Of The Week comes in the form of a very special, public installation piece. The piece in question is Charles Petillon’s ‘Heartbeat’.


If you’ve been to Covent Garden in the past few days, you may have noticed something a little different when walking through, if you wondered what the huge cloud like form was (52 meters in length, and 12 meters in width) it was indeed Heartbeat.

Heartbeat is an installation piece by the French artist whom works primarily with balloons and public spaces. In total the piece weighs 320kgs (just the balloons!) and runs the length of the Covent Garden market place.

The piece is striking in size, and somewhat whimsical and playful too. There’s something that in simple terms is quite joyful about a giant cloud made of balloons in the middle of a shopping area, it breaks up the ordinary activities of strolling in and out of shops and makes spectators stop to gaze and smile. It’s a true masterpiece in terms of bringing art to the public and making it accessible to all.

Petillon has made the use of balloons as sculpture items his main practice, however he mainly, almost exclusively works in France, making Heartbeat even more special. Petillon has explained the name of the piece came from Covent Garden’s own history in that it was the ‘first public square and the West End as the city’s beating heart’. When the piece is seen in person it all makes sense. Each balloon is its own individual size and its own entity almost but once combined they create something fragile that’s almost breathing and moving, it’s clustered together, and creates a harmonious metaphor to what it is like to be in Central London.

Heartbeat is a truly incredible piece to see, and if you can make it into Covent Garden, Heartbeat will be up until September 27th

Words by Selene Mortimore

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