Watching the balloons


Balloons is Cica Ghost’s latest installation at Wondering Dew, where it replaces her wonderfully atmospheric Ruins, which I wrote about here. Having officially opened on Sunday, April 12th, Balloons is a similarly atmospheric piece, although in a somewhat different manner.

From the landing point, you look out over a low-lying landscape which undulates gently. Flowers and grass grow tall here, and a lone tree stands on the coast. In the distance stands a city, but a city that’s most unusual in form; rather than rising up into the sky, the tall buildings are bent and oddly deformed, stooping back towards the ground on which they stand. Fog or smoke enshrouds them, and giant cobwebs lay stretched between them, giving the city a neglected feel.


It is something that is seemingly lost on the denizens of this strange place. While most of them stand in the fields surrounding their city, few appear to be paying it any attention; their focus is instead on the balloons bobbing gently in the breeze, strings hanging tantalising down, most of them just out of reach.

Most, but not all; some have clearly dropped down to within reach of outstretched hands, to be grasped firmly and, whether it be with shocked surprise or sudden pleasure, have then lifted the ones grasping them up into the air, carrying them on the eddying currents of air so they float over the crowd and drift between the city’s curled towers.


Flying in this way is obviously a delight, something several of those left on the ground clearly wish to experience. To this end, some have been enterprising in their attempts, calling upon step ladders to help increase their ability to grasp passing strings as ballloons float overhead as other watch and point. Such is the wonder of these balloons, that even the bed-ridden reach longingly for a passing string and the hope of … what? Freedom? Flight? Escape?

And what of us, those who stand and watch, alongside the island’s cats as they look on mournfully, as neglected as the city itself? What are we to make of this scene? Is this perhaps a commentary on the dangers of obsession? The wilting fingers of the city’s tired towers with the shimmering cobwebs spread between them, perhaps a warning against becoming too focused on a single thing, be it an activity, object or something else?


Or are the balloons themselves a comment on our quest for freedom, to be able to soar above the problems of everyday life as presented by the shadowy city, its cobwebs symbolic of the many things which can obscure our view or even bind us in the mundane? The artist doesn’t seek to enlighten us; instead she leaves us to interpret things as we choose.

What she does provide, however, is a balloon which visitors can obtain for free at the landing point, allowing them to experience what it is like to float above the ground and beneath the sky like the citizens of this strange land. I won’t promise it’ll help you decide what is going on in this deceptively beautiful land; but I can say that floating around on the end of a piece of strong can be a lot of fun, and it’s easy to see why the locals enjoy it!

Bolloons should remain open through until the end of April, so why not hop over and see what’s going on for yourself?

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