Art, like play, is for everyone. Left Bank Leeds is now inviting visitors, old and new, to experience, hug, jump and play on ‘Heaven’; a new art commission by Leeds-based contemporary artist Pippa Hale, who has brought two inflatable, interactive sculptures to life in collaboration with children from the local community.
When we asked her to tell us the story behind ‘Heaven’ Pippa said:
“I love creating site-specific works that connect to the history of a place and also to the community. Since having kids, I've become very interested in play — I’ve been thinking more about the opportunities in society for both kids and adults to play.”
In thinking around the concept of play, the space and her artistic practice, Pippa came up with the idea for ‘Heaven’. Between lockdowns during the summer of 2020, children and adults who visited Left Bank Leeds were asked to draw a picture of their interpretations of heaven — as a place, idea or abstract feeling.
These drawings have inspired the creation of 3D inflatable shapes, designed to be enjoyed by those of all ages. “There’s been a long history of artists working with pneumatic art — and while there might be an interactive element to it, it’s not exactly playable,” says Pippa.
“You can think about Claire Ashley’s fantastic inflatable paintings — you just want to leap on them, or hug them. And then there’s the leisure industry inflatables, like bouncy castles and assault courses. Those are playable but they’re bloody ugly!”
She laughs, and adds: “It was about finding a happy medium between the two.”
Pippa also considered the building itself, its ecclesiastical heritage and its present day form as a progressive arts and creative space enjoyed by the community. Both sculptures will sit in the heart of the one-hundred year old building, placed for play between the original stone colonnades and arches.
“It’s not a consecrated church anymore, but it has Christian roots and I wanted to bring in that connection alongside the sense of innocence, humility, fearlessness, and open mindedness — all attitudes that we employ when we play,” says Pippa.
“There’s ‘Heaven’ as the inflatable and the Christian background of the space; where people can come together and have fun and be joyful. And have arguments and resolve conflicts; and be sociable and meet friends — or make new ones."
“I wanted to draw down a bit of heaven to earth so that all visitors can have the opportunity to transcend the here and now in a moment of joy, play and togetherness.”
To learn more about Heaven (and to book your tickets), check out Left Bank Leeds' website here.