When it comes to art, we’ve seen it all in London. A stressful strobe immersive experience? Yeah. Waxworks Whacky of celebrities? A room of huge bubbles filled with smoke? Yeah, been there, done that. But we had never seen an airborne gallery, until now.
A hot air balloon is ready to take off in the skies of Thamesmead, southeast London this month. But this is no ordinary hot air balloon, its panels are made up of 200 works of art inspired by the local Thamesmead community. The floating gallery, titled “Fields of Everywhen” was built by international artists musson+retallick (artists Neil Musson and Jono Retallick), who won the Thamesmead Open, a global art competition organized by the Peabody Trust.
The artists designed and built a kaleidoscopic, 25 meter high hot air balloon showcasing over 200 works of art created by local residents, artists and community groups. Artists muscon+retallick glued each design together and digitally enlarged them on 800 meters of balloon fabric to build a huge floating gallery.
Why a balloon, we hear you ask? Well, the ship was chosen because of the area’s association with balloons during the Second World War when Thamesmead was heavily protected by barrage balloons due to its proximity to the Royal Arsenal, one of the largest ammunition factories in the UK.
The artwork, which took two years to complete, was initially made as a five-meter prototype. Later this month, the massive 25m life-size balloon will be launched at Thamesmead. According to the artists, each quilt tells a different story and represents a moment in Thamesmead’s history. In addition to flying the balloon, the organizers plan to inflate it on the ground on its side so that people can walk in it and see the design from inside.
‘Fields of Everywhen’ will fly over Thamesmead five times this summer, including the Thamesmead Festival, with its final flight at the end of September. What better time to visit London’s only air show?
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