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Charles Pétillon's latest art installation inflates and illuminates Covent Garden ahead of the London Design Festival

Covent Garden's 18th Century market building is to be the new home of French artist Charles Pétillon's latest creation Heartbeat. Not only is this his first public installation it is also his first work outside of France. BAPIA asked it's members to give up their free time and lend a hand. Here are some that were more than happy to be a part of this magnificent example of balloons making headlines within the art community. 



Clockwise from top left Rina Patel (Grapefruit Balloons), Ayo Onibokun (Ayoberry Entertainment), Mark Eason (Margaret's Favours & Balloons) and Tameran Kwade (Sonshine Smiles).


With 70,000 white balloons needed to create the installation it has been a case of all hands on deck to ensure it is ready to be unveiled to the public on 27th August 2015.


Bottom right Anna Hickman (Qualatex) 


Tameran (pictured below) from Sonshine Smiles is one of the BAPIA members who gave up her time to assist with this installation and she came away so inspired that she wrote a poem about her time in Covent Garden.






This installation can be seen in Covent Garden from 27th August 2015 until 27th September 2015. For more information please read the press release below. 




Charles Pétillon fills Covent Garden’s Market Building

with thousands of balloons for latest cultural commission

French artist Charles Pétillon will present his first public art installation – and his first ever live work outside of France – in Covent Garden this August when 70,000 giant white balloons fill the grand interior of the 18th Century Market Building.


Uniting the world of art with world-class architecture, the installation is being unveiled ahead of the London Design Festival and was inspired by Covent Garden’s heritage as London’s first public square and the West End’s reputation as the beating heart of the city. 


Weaving its way through the South Hall of the Grade II listed Market Building, Heartbeat stretches 54 metres in length and 12 metres in width, and incorporates gentle pulsating white light to symbolise the beating of a heart and reflect the history, energy and dynamism of the district.


Charles Pétillon said: “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. 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.


“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.”


A pop-up gallery on the Piazza at Unit 5, Royal Opera House Arcade, will showcase Charles’ series of Invasions photographs as well as some of his other work.

Beverley Churchill, Creative Director of Capco Covent Garden, said: “Culture today is live and all around us and art has been freed from inside museums for everyone to enjoy. Art and performance are in Covent Garden’s DNA and our annual commissions honour that tradition, I believe our visitors will love experiencing and exploring Heartbeat.”

The complex yet fragile composition represents Charles’ largest and most ambitious project to date and will run from 27th August until 27th September. 

Charles is best known for Invasions, a series of arresting sculptures which challenge perceptions of everyday scenes by filling the likes of derelict houses, basketball courts and even cars with hundreds of white balloons. 


Heartbeatforms part of Covent Garden’s ongoing cultural programme which transforms the district into an ever-changing, open-air art gallery.  Last November, British artist Alex Chinneck added a touch of magic to the Piazza when a section of the 185-year old Market Building appeared to break free from its foundations and float into the air. Other artists that have created pieces for the area include Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Paul Cocksedge, Banksy, Sam Taylor-Johnson and Martha Fiennes as well as previous partnerships with the London Design Festival and Tate Modern.


Over the past few years Covent Garden has been transformed into a vibrant world-class destination, welcoming over 40 million customer visits a year. The estate’s energy and global appeal has attracted a strong tenant line up of retailers and restaurants.  Luxury brands including Burberry, Chanel, and Dior, sit alongside some of the capital’s most popular restaurants including LIMA Floral, Ladurée and Balthazar.

Join in the conversation using #CoventGardenBalloons @CoventGardenLDN


Notes to Editors

For all media enquiries, request for interviews or images, please contact:

Maxine Rushworth at Edelman: 0203 047 4047 /

London-based design and production agency Sculptivate has helped realise the installation, consulting with Charles Petillon on the rigging and technical requirements, providing technical and logistical support, and providing the rigging for the installation. 

About Capco Covent Garden:

Covent Garden is one of the most distinct and vibrant estates in London. The district is now home to Chanel, Dior, Balthazar and Ivy Market Grill and has recently unveiled some of the finest residential properties in London.

Capital & Counties Properties PLC ('Capco') is responsible for the management and curation of over 1 million sq. ft. of space at Covent Garden valued at £1.8 billion (as at 30 June 2015). Under Capco’s stewardship, Covent Garden has been transformed into a world-class destination, welcoming over 40 million customer visits a year.


About Sculptivate

Sculptivate is a leading Design & Production Agency based in London.  A diverse array of global brands and agencies come to Sculptivate for their unique holistic approach to design and production in both installation and live events.

Recent projects include the design of the Chinese New Year decorations for The Landmark in Hong Kong, Pernod Ricard’s 40th Anniversary celebrations, Christian Dior’s Christmas Press Show and a Ferrari driving event in Malaysia on the occasion of the Grand Prix.

Current projects include the design and installation of a show suite at the BBC Television Centre development, Global POS design for Graff diamonds as well as ongoing VM for Bulgari, Tiffany and Apsrey.

About Capital & Counties Properties PLC (Capco):

Capital & Counties Properties PLC is one of the largest investment and development property companies that specialises in central London real estate and is a constituent of the FTSE-250 Index. Capco holds 3.7 million sq. ft. of assets valued at £3 billion (as at 31 December 2015) in two landmark London estates: Covent Garden, which has assets valued at £1.6 billion including the historic Market Building, and Earls Court Properties including the Empress State Building together with the Venues business with aggregate property assets of £1.2 billion. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

About Charles Pétillon

Charles Pétillon began his career in photography in advertising under the supervision of Jean Larivière.  In 2002, he became a still life photographer in advertising under his own name with work regularly published in various magazines such as Lui, Mixte, Numéro, Vogue Gioiello and Vogue Russia.  Since 2009, in parallel with his career in publicity, he has developed a specific project on humans and their environment and in consequence, the memories of these places.

To contact Charles’ team, please contact Sophie Hirtzel at Trouble Management (Paris):

+33 1 78 09 73 73 / +33 6 38 60 96 78




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