Head in the Clouds

One of the best things about living in London is encountering the unexpected at every turn…

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In a cultural center like London it’s no surprise that art is part of the soul of the city. But some of my favourite art pieces I’ve seen weren’t inside the confines of gallery or museum walls – they were out in the fresh air…and above my head!

Though these installations have since been packed up and moved on I thought it would be fun to share three of my absolute favourites.

1. From August 27th until September 27th, 2015 Covent Garden Market hosted a unique installation from French artist Charles Pétillon called ‘Heartbeat‘ – 100,000 giant white balloons stretching 54 metres in length and 12 metres in width with gentle, pulsating white light which symbolized the beating of a heart and ‘reflect the history, energy and dynamism of the district’.

Charles Pétillon said: “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.”

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Incredible and so interesting to see in the historic surroundings of Covent Garden Market!

2. You may already know I’m a fan of Borough Market (if not,don’t worry! You can read all about how amazing it is here) so I was sad to see one of its best features shut down – the courtyard outside the entrance to now-closed Vinopolis. What makes this courtyard so special? This:

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Understandably, a vast majority of people associate umbrellas and rain with London life (though it should be said that Manchester gets more rain per calendar year…) and this kind of nod to one of the things that makes London what it is, is beautiful to see. I love the colours and I love the way it looks different from every angle. It’s such a shame that with the closure of Vinopolis it’s now shut off from the rest of Borough Market and may even be removed when the building takes on new purpose.

3. The UK’s largest light festival – Lumiere – came to London this past January and, for me, Janet Echelman’s ‘1.8’ (which hung strung between the buildings at Oxford Circus) was the clear highlight. The installation’s name is in reference to one of the astonishing impacts of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011 when the strength of the vibrations momentarily sped up the earth’s rotation and shortened that day by 1.8 seconds.

From the artist’s website: “The monumental floating form is composed of layers of fiber, braided and knotted together in vibrant hues that pulse with changing wind and weather to create a choreography of undulating color. At night, the sculpture comes to life with projected colored light. The precise colors and patterns are created interactively with members of the public, who are invited to use their smartphones to select colors and tap out patterns with the touch of a finger. These patterns are projected onto the monumental surface of the sculpture, and proceed to interact with one another, creating ripple effects for all to see.”

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I passed the installation almost every day that it was up and it was fantastic to see the variety of ways it was illuminated and the ways it changed the feel and impact of the overall piece. I could have stared at it for hours (and probably did if you added up time on the different days…) It turns out you learn a lot when your head is in the clouds!

If you have a favourite – or a suggestion for an installation or exhibit I should check out I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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