Arty hot air balloon ride over Thamesmead

As part of an art event, a 25-metre-high hot air balloon will fly over Thamesmead in south-east London over the next two months. This is part of an art project between the Royal School of Needlework and artists Neil Musson and Jono Retallick who have created a high-flying work of art that brings the stories of a local community to life through needlework.

The project, ‘Fields of EveryWhen’ by muscon+retallick, has engaged with the community of Thamesmead, over a period of two years and takes the historic form of a 25 meter high hot air balloon. The work consists of two parts, local stories converted into embroidery and the hot air balloon displaying these embroideries.

The hot air balloon features 200 designs that have been glued together and digitally enlarged on 800 meters of balloon fabric to form a “floating gallery”.

With the top of the balloon rising 45 meters above the ground, Fields of EveryWhen is designed as a performance rather than carrying passengers and will be tethered to the ground. The process of setting up, inflating and deflating the balloon is part of the theatrical presentation – the artwork is dramatically revealed as the vast canopy fills with air. In addition to floating overhead, the balloon will be inflated while lying on the ground, and you (may) be allowed to walk inside the balloon in its inflated part to see the art, and a hot air balloon from a very unusual angle.

Lateral inflation of the balloon will take place in the afternoon of the day of the flight. The balloon will fly over Thamesmead for five evenings – weather permitting – from 6.30pm to 9pm.

If you are on a special trip – check here before leaving in case the weather causes the evening flight to be cancelled.

All locations are a short walk or bus ride from Abbey Wood station, with the exception of Gallions Reach, which is easiest to reach via a 20 minute walk along the river from Abbey Wood station. Woolwich on the Elizabeth line.

A word of advice – maybe try to arrive just before dusk as you can see the art lit by the setting sun, but also as it’s a bit darker, lit from within by the libers of the air burners hot.

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