Martin Creed’s Balloons

Is there anything better in the world than an art exhibition which is pre-empted by the question “Are you allergic to latex?”. (Pause here to imagine all the different exhibitions you might not be able to visit if you had a latex allergy. Finished? Kindly remove you brain from the gutter/dungeon and continue.)

The Hayward Gallery is currently home to Martin Creed’s exhibition ‘What’s The Point Of It?’. Niki and I took ourselves over there at the weekend to see what the point of it really was, and it is hands down the most fun I have ever had in an art gallery.

We arrived bright and early before the doors opened, and sat in the sunshine listening to sellers setting up shop at Southbank Centre Market and the sound of classical music blasting delightfully (in a way that only very loud, very classical music can) from a nearby parked van. Summer in the city. Bliss.

The doors opened and the patiently waiting motley crew – comprised of families with young children, artsy looking student types, and us – trotted inside.

You have to walk through most of the exhibition to get to what was really the point of it for us, so we decided to do everything backwards and start at the end. Like a pair of sniffer dogs homing in on a scent (or like us homing in on a cheesecake) we headed straight for the balloons.

On paper, a big white room filled almost to the brim with big white balloons might not sound that exciting. In reality, well, this happened.

How excited are you, Gem? Oh y'know, moderately...

How excited are you, Gem? Oh y’know, moderately…

Niki was similarly chilled about it all…


Er yeah…


So chilled.

In fact, you could even call her nonchalant.





I stopped spinning around with my arms in the air for a second and tried to look a bit sensible.

Nailed it.

Nailed it.

But the ever-increasing static had other ideas.


This is apparently my ‘alarmed by my own hair’ face.


Look how crazy it is!


… And how crazy I look.

Niki’s hair looked only slightly less mad than mine.


Only slightly.

Niki Static2

But she was pretty happy about life.

And in the end we had no choice but to accept the craziness.


Little bit crazy.


Crazy crazy.

With big grins on our faces and huge tangles in our hair we stumbled back to the door and squeezed outside. Everything seemed a little more wonderful and a great deal more playful than it had done before the balloons. A car which every so often starts by itself, slams open all its doors and plays breakfast radio clips was absolutely captivating. A row of cacti suddenly compelled you to feel its spines with such urgency it was as if it had its own gravitational pull. A wall covered in different coloured prints of cauliflower made perfect sense.

We weren’t quite sure what to make of the balcony on which stood a huge screen showing a video of a slowly erecting penis, and stood giggling with a similarly bemused yet amused lady while we waited for it to it to reach the peak of its trajectory so she could take a sneaky photo, and cracked jokes about not putting it under any pressure.

The balcony is blocked by doors warning explicit content, but if you go with small children I’d probably recommend getting them to cover their eyes as you exit the exhibition too, unless you want to make potty training them harder than need be. I won’t be eating chocolate fro-yo any time soon, put it that way.

But other than that particular Nandos-dessert-ruining video, the whole thing was fantastic. Niki and I left feeling elated, buoyant as a pair of balloons, and about ten years younger. We headed down to the market and brought ourselves cheesecake for breakfast.

So if you want to be a big kid for an hour, then it’s well worth a visit. Book tickets here before it closes on the 5th of May.

Just promise me one thing if you do go? Don’t forget to take a hairbrush.


3 responses to “Martin Creed’s Balloons

  1. This was my favorite part of the exhibition – great!!

  2. Pingback: Sensational Butterflies | Some Little Gems

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